Following tragic murder of Selma police officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr., Senate Minority Caucus Chair Janet Nguyen doubles down on effort to fix broken program.
Sacramento, CA -Saying there is an “urgent and immediate” need to bring accountability for California’s early release of prisoners, Senate Minority Caucus Chair Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach) will introduce legislation that would require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to make public the calculations of a prisoner’s early release, including what the inmate did to earn any credits.
Senator Nguyen’s measure comes after an officer in Fresno County was killed in the line of duty by a convicted felon who was inexplicably given early release.
“Our broken criminal justice system has resulted in another tragic life lost, this time a law enforcement officer who was on duty protecting his community,” Senator Nguyen said. “The public has a right to know how inmates earn these credits and why they are being released early. This bill addresses both issues and is a start to holding the state accountable for this fundamentally flawed program.”
Selma Police Officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. was murdered in the line of duty by a 23-year-old convicted felon with a history of firearms possession, robbery and drug offense who was given early release in September 2022.
Fresno County District Attorney Lisa A. Smittcamp, whose office prosecuted the 23-year-old felon, in a statement released yesterday, pointed to failed policies as the reason this killing occurred. “Governor Newsom and every legislator in the state of California who supports this over-reaching phenomenon [recent early release credit reforms] they try to disguise as legitimate criminal justice reform, has the blood of this officer on their hands,” Smittcamp said.
“My heart breaks for the family of Officer Carrasco,” Senator Nguyen continued. “Nothing we do today will bring back his life. We’ve seen too many times that these violent felons are given early release and then go on to commit additional violent crimes. This must end.”
As another example of the need for this legislation, Senator Nguyen pointed to career criminal Smiley Martin, who was given early release after serving less than half of his 10-year sentence, and then was part of the downtown Sacramento mass shooting in April 2022. Even the CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz couldn’t explain why he was released early, saying “I can’t calculate how he got out in the time that he did.”
Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) who represents portions of Fresno County in the State Senate and is a co-author of Senator Nguyen’s legislation, expressed grief and outrage at the murder of Officer Carrasco and released the following statement:
“How many times do we have to see our law enforcement officers and innocent victims murdered and brutalized by felons released early before we acknowledge Governor Newsom’s policies are broken? This measure is a step in the right direction to address the policies that continue to let violent offenders back onto the streets before serving their time. I pray that the grace of God is with the family of Officer Carrasco during this very difficult time.”
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.
Senator Shannon Grove represents California’s 12th Senate District which encompasses large portions of Fresno, Kern and Tulare Counties.