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California Senate Democrats Block Measure to Provide Accountability on Early Prison Releases

By   /  April 13, 2023  /  No Comments

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Sacramento, CA – California Senate Democrats in the Public Safety Committee continued their destructive path of placing convicted felons first and refused to support Senate Bill 288, which would require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to make the calculations of a prisoner’s early release public, including what the inmate did to earn any credits. The 1-3 vote that stalled Senate Bill 288 fell along party lines with the Sacramento Supermajority opposed the bill with the Committee’s lone Republican in support of the measure. The bill was granted reconsideration and will be heard at a later hearing of the Senate Public Safety Committee. 

Senate Minority Caucus Chair Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach) authored SB 288 which was part of the Caucus’ Fix California Legislative package. SB 288 would have brought accountability for early release programs following several secretive releases that later ended in horror. The measure is supported by all members of the California Senate Republican Caucus.

One of those tragic losses was this year when Selma Police Officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. was murdered in the line of duty in January by a 23-year-old convicted felon with a history of firearms possession, robbery, and drug offenses who inexplicably was given early release in September 2022.

“I am extremely disappointed that Senate Democrats blocked this measure as they are very aware that California’s broken criminal justice system has resulted in innocent lives lost,” said Minority Caucus Chair Janet Nguyen.

“Time and time again, violent felons are granted early release and then go on to commit additional violent crimes. Just a year ago, convicted career criminal Smiley Martin was granted early release from prison to only days after his release go on to participate in a massacre shooting only a few blocks from the Capitol. Not even the former CDCR Secretary could explain how Martin earned those early release credits so quickly. Something must change.”

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp’s office prosecuted the 23-year-old felon who killed Officer Carrasco and has also been vocal about Sacramento Democrats’ failed public safety reforms.

“The People of the State of California deserve to have information available to them regarding the release of prisoners from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), as the release of these criminals directly affects public safety. The construction of Proposition 57 allows for CDCR to grant time credits to inmates without any public, judicial or external review. This statute would remedy the omission of Proposition 57, as well as provide a system of checks and balances to ensure that time credits are being earned, and not arbitrarily given to inmates,” said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp.

“Good behavior, rehabilitation and education time credits should be earned by the inmate, not given away by an administrative agent of CDCR. Nothing in this legislation violates any privacy or HIPAA rights of inmates. CDCR is a public institution, funded by tax payer dollars and the public that pays for the services provided by the institution should be privy to the information regarding the allocation of time credits given.”  

Elected in 2022 overwhelmingly, Senator Janet Nguyen represents California Senate District 36, which covers Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Corona Del Mar, Westminster, San Clemente, Capistrano Beach, Fountain Valley, Buena Park, Dana Point, Seal Beach, Surfside, Laguna Beach, Stanton, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Cerritos, Artesia and Hawaiian Gardens and unincorporated cities of Midway City and Rossmoor. Senator Janet Nguyen has previously served as a City Councilmember, Orange County Supervisor, State Senate in the 34th District, and State Assembly.

CA State Senate Republican Caucus | 1020 N Street, Suite 536, Sacramento, CA 95814

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