Over 40 district attorneys in California have banded together to challenge a new rule that could put up to 76,000 inmates back on the streets early.
The group of D.A.’s filed a petition to request that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) repeal the temporary emergency regulations that took effect on May 1, making inmates eligible to cut their prison sentences by one-third by earning good behavior credits.
“The goal is to increase incentives for the incarcerated population to practice good behavior and follow the rules while serving their time, and participate in rehabilitative and educational programs, which will lead to safer prisons,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Simas said.
But Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer says the regulations are part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s “woke anti-victim” agenda.
“California is out of control and the rest of the nation needs to wake up,” Spitzer said. “Governor Newsom is very proud that he’s going to close two prisons in California, we’re one of the most dangerous states in the nation and the agenda is to end mass incarceration.”
He also pointed out the eligible inmates aren’t likely to be model citizens upon their release. “We’re talking about the most violent of the violent,” he said. “Second-strikers, those who have committed two or more serious violent felonies and three-strikers, [those who have committed] three or more serious or violent felonies.”
More than 63,000 of the qualified inmates have been convicted of violent crimes and nearly 20,000 of them are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole. Kent Scheidegger, the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation for crime victims, criticized the credit system for being too lax.
“You don’t have to be good to get good time credits. People who lose good time credits for misconduct get them back, they don’t stay gone,” he said. “They could be a useful device for managing the population if they had more teeth in them. But they don’t. They’re in reality just a giveaway.”
41 of California’s 58 district attorneys signed the petition to declare the implementation of the new regulations unlawful. “Allowing the early release of the most dangerous criminals, shortening sentences as much as 50%, impacts crime victims and creates a serious public safety risk,” remarked Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.
“This petition asks CDCR to repeal these regulations, begin the process anew, and allow for transparency and public input. Victims, their families, and all Californians deserve a fair and honest debate about the wisdom of such drastic regulations,” she continued. “That’s what we’re asking for. There was no emergency. They imposed them on a Friday at three o’clock without any real notice. And now, we just want an opportunity to be heard.”