Home>Articles>Judge Grants Restraining Order Against New CDCR Early Release Credit Regulations

Judge Grants Restraining Order Against New CDCR Early Release Credit Regulations

DAs oppose releasing dangerous inmates after serving only a small fraction of their sentences

By Evan Symon, December 30, 2021 10:17 am

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert (Photo: sacda.org)

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei granted a temporary restraining order on Wednesday to stop the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from increasing the number of “good conduct credits” that non-violent “second strike” inmates could receive.

The CDCR recently enacted “emergency regulations” to increase the number of credits given to prisoners working in fire camp-related work and to non-violent “second strike” offenders.  Prisoners in the CDCR system can receive these credits for “educational, vocational, and self-improvement activities” to help give prisoners a better chance at adjusting once out of prison, and reduce the chances of committing crimes that could result in being jailed again. In many cases, the more credits that are earned, the quicker they can be released from prison. However, only prisoners non-violent offenders and those in minimum security were eligible for these credits.

Under the newest regulations, “non-violent” second strike inmates would see an increase in number of credits earned, going from 50% to 66%. Effectively, this would reduce sentences even more, going from half the time off to 66% of the time off. Those eligible for the new credit amount includes prisoners convicted for domestic violence, animal cruelty, human trafficking, and weapons possessions with prior convictions.

The new regulations upset many County District Attorney Offices across the state, who saw the new CDCR regulations as not only potentially dangerous, but warned that with most time off, prisoners weren’t likely to be properly rehabilitated. Many also noted that a large number of the non-violent prisoners up for more credits have violent pasts, with only the “two strike” reasoning in the regulation allowing them an early release in the first place.

With so much concern over the new regulations, 28 DA’s filed a temporary retraining order on the 22nd.

“Many of these so-called `nonviolent’ second-strikers have long and violent criminal histories — including repeat felony domestic violence convictions, sexual assaults and gun violence,” said Sacramento County District Attorney and author of the restraining order Anne Marie Schubert in a statement. “Releasing these dangerous inmates after serving a small fraction of their sentences not only lacks accountability, it shortens effective rehabilitation, violates victims’ rights and is a significant threat to public safety. No one is contesting good conduct credits for fire camp work, but sneaking in another class of individuals with serious and violent criminal histories goes too far.”

The DA’s noted that they aren’t against the part of the regulation giving more credits to those working in fire camps, especially if they help prisoners decide to work on fire crews and help control wildfires. They clarified that they were against more credits being given to prisoners with serious and violent criminal histories.

“Releasing inmates early who have committed atrocious crimes after only serving a fraction of their sentence threatens the safety of our communities and is a slap in the face to crime victims who are still suffering,” explained San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan on Wednesday. “My fellow District Attorneys and I do not contest good conduct credits for fire camp work, but extending those credits to inmates with serious and violent criminal histories is not in the interest of justice or the public’s safety.”

San Luis Obispo County DA Dan Dow added in a statement: “The people in our community have a right to expect that dangerous criminals with violent criminal history will serve their entire sentence in order to both protect society from their continued crimes and to send a strong message that violence will not be tolerated in our community. To award these additional credits by way of ‘emergency’ regulation procedure when there is no emergency is a slight of hand designed to go unnoticed and it must be stopped.”

Restraining order issued by Sacramento County Judge

The cause for concern convinced Judge Cadei on Wednesday to issue the restraining order, resulting in a cautious victory for the DA’s.

“We’re happy about this, but we also know it’s not a forever decision,” said a SLO County DA employee to the Globe on Thursday. “It’s a temporary restraining order, so this will need to be fought again another day. But, we like to think that residents can feel at least a little better that an easy avenue for earlier release by violent criminals was closed off.”

The CDCR, which has remained adamant about the credit change, defended themselves on Wednesday and noted that other parts of the new regulations, such as minimum security prisoners getting an increase of credits, would still be happening. They also noted that they are still in the process of reviewing the new order by Judge Cadei.

“The department stands by our regulations as drafted and is moving forward with implementing the unaffected portions of the credit-earning regulations as scheduled on January 1, 2022,” the CDCR said in a statement Thursday. “CDCR’s primary mission is public safety, and as part of that mission we will continue to ensure incarcerated people who are making efforts towards their own rehabilitation by maintaining good behavior and participating in programming and rehabilitative opportunities are afforded the chance to earn credits for their efforts. We are evaluating the order and the scope of its impact on our operations.”

A more permanent decision on the credit change for second strike inmates is expected some time next year.

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5 thoughts on “Judge Grants Restraining Order Against New CDCR Early Release Credit Regulations

  1. Not blowout good news but, in the chipping-away-at-evil department, good news nonetheless.
    Very glad to see it at the end of 2021, a really disastrous year in California in just about every way.

  2. I wonder if this will affect plans for Bakersfield College (a community college) to offer its bachelors degree in industrial automation at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano? Somehow I don’t think prisons were part of the original intent for the community college bachelors degree programs.

  3. I believe they should be given these credits they work for as hard as any. Some have served their original sentences and paid their debt to society and yet parole has still denied them so I believe they are entitled to receive this chance they are still earning and working for and which will help them become better equipment to re-enter society when they are released.

  4. If you guys ONLY knew what goes on behind these bars! I come from a family of law enforcement and am a business owner in Sacramento with district attorneys and clients from all walks of life. Before this happened, I like many people thought “you are behind bars, you deserve to be there”. Not anymore! Our system is flawed and in 6 months the 2 feet of documentation I have gathered would be enough to make anybody’s skin crawl. My daughter just had her first baby and is at CIW for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter and she was not even driving. The driver came out and admitted to throwing her under the bus (he was a felon, driving drunk going 80 in a 50 and fled the scene) Killed his friend and while on the run knew he would do life and not only TRIED to convince my daughter that she pulled the wheel after he figured out she could not remember anything (she flew out and broker her back and neck) but got with the two surviving friends (my daughter knew none of them in the back but for THAT night) to concoct this story. We had this on text and FB message but it got blocked as evidence. DA withheld the blood test evidence of the 2 backseat witnessed until the DAY OF TRIAL. DA (Mark OTT who was sanctioned the year prior for bullying in the courtroom and with-holding evidence got away with it again. I have (2) district attorney clients who know this case but can’t get involved for obvious reasons, the bailiff, my niece who is a detective and anybody and everyone who sat through that trial cannot believe this SHIT that the state got away with but we are not done – not by a long shot! She has NEVER been in trouble in her life, had a GREAT job, GREAT credit, her own place, car and lost it all for something she didn’t do. CDCR is terrible. She had her baby on the 4th cesearean. I was there and my grandson is perfect. Since she has been out after they literally cut through 6 layers of skin, tissue, organs, muscle has not been seen ONCE for a follow up visit and today is the 20th. She was denied any pain medication and has been suffering. They are locked down but for 30 minutes a day due to staff shortages and people are dying. Inmate collapsed at CIW on 12/24 in the dining area (I can send documentation on ALL of this and a ton more). She was gasping for air and literally dying. The nurse was first to get there and did nothing. Didn’t want to touch her and left her struggling to breathe. By the time the Sgt got there and tried CPR it was too late and she died. Once pronounced, they covered her and proceeded on with breakfast with carts running into her body leaving these people (yes they are people) absolutely traumatized. The cells are FULL of mold and 602’s per the inspector generals investigation report are ignored and covered up. If an inmate complains they are labeled “602 queens”.
    (copy/paste link):

    https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2021/jun/1/inspector-general-calls-california-prison-reform-efforts-10-million-failure/

    She has asked for her medical records dating back 4 months and nobody will respond yet they tout their accreditation with the Joint Commission. Ombudsman is a joke as they all cover for each other.

    I “get this is prison” but the conditions are seriously worse than most animal shelters. Counselors are nowhere to be found and before she gave birth, myself and Detective Portnoy called 72 times before we could get anybody to pick up on the main line.

    Inmates are afraid to say anything as they are being retaliated on and I can tell you this is NO WAY to debilitate anybody.

    This system needs to be FIXED as there is going to be one hell of a class action in short order!

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