State Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, recently sent a letter to Secretary Kathleen Allison with the Department of Corrections protesting the department’s proposal to make an emergency regulation that reduces sentences imposed by judges by increasing time credits awarded on those sentences.
Gray’s office released a text of the letter:
“Dear Secretary Allison:
I write to request the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) withdraw its dangerous proposal to make permanent ‘emergency regulations’ which would result in the early release of thousands of violent offenders and ‘nonviolent second strikers.’
“In 2016, voters enacted Proposition 57, which granted to CDCR the ability to determine an inmate’s eligibility for early parole (‘early release’). Just months ago, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that CDCR need not consider early release for violent felons, even if the felon’s primary offense is non-violent. Unfortunately, your Department is seeking to codify regulations which run counter to the Court’s decision, violate victims’ rights, and will result in the permanent release of dangerous criminals into our communities.
“Under Rule Number NCR 22-03, your department is proposing to reduce sentences imposed by judges by increasing time credits awarded on those sentences. Should your proposal be adopted, violent offenders could have their conduct credit rate increased from 20 to 33 percent. ‘Nonviolent’ second strikers could see an increase from 50 to 66 percent. Under California law, these ‘nonviolent’ offenses include domestic assault, human trafficking, and assault with a deadly weapon.
“Between April 1, 2020 and August 1, 2021, CDCR released 773 convicted felons into Stanislaus County. Of those 773 individuals, 289 were re-arrested during that same 14 months, some multiple times (for a total of 598 re-arrests). And, while some of the re-arrest offenses were minor, others were not. For example, one individual, Alexander Valenzuela, released early from prison and prior to the completion of his sentence for being a criminal in possession of a firearm, was re-arrested for murder in November of 2020. Unfortunately, that was not the first time that he was arrested since being released early. He was arrested months earlier, in August 2020, for obstructing an officer.
“One of government’s most fundamental obligations is to keep our homes, neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces safe. Academic studies and algorithms which argue that other factors should be considered in release date for violent felons ignore what should be the fundamental reason to grant or not grant a release: the risk of recidivism.
“Releasing dangerous criminals who have served only a fraction of their sentence is an affront on public safety and will put our neighborhoods, communities, families, and children at risk. For the reasons stated above, I request that your Department allow the ‘emergency regulations’ to expire and cease all attempts to make permanent Rule Number NCR 22-03, OAL Notice File No. Z2022-0215-10.”