Victim Request For Release Opposed by District Attorney –
She calls it “one of Yolo County’s more horrific crimes” and describes the kidnapping of then 3-month-old Brandon Huff who was “dangled out of a van window as the suspects led police on a high-speed chase.”
“You pose an unreasonable risk of danger,” the article quotes Troy Arbaugh, a commissioner on the Board of Parole Hearings as saying, following a half-hour of deliberations. The Enterprise adds, “He said while Young has made progress in recent years, a history of depression and drug abuse while in prison make him unsuitable for release.”
However, the other side to this story is one of redemption and rehabilitation. Mr. Young has received extensive support from members of the Woodland community which includes the now 28-year-old victim, Brandon Huff, and his mother, both of whom advocate for his release. He has succeeded with educational achievements, including vocational training and an associate degree.
But that is not enough apparently. His release was opposed by both the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, both which cited a 2009 psychological evaluation that deemed Mr. Young at moderate risk for violence and recidivism.
His original crime occurred when he was 22, a high school drop-out, and addicted to heroin. He was in debt and apparently along with two teenage girls and Salvadore Sanchez, to whom he was indebted, launched the plan that culminated in a dramatic chase that unfolded on television.
He would plead guilty to charges of kidnapping and he received a sentence of seven years to life. Mr. Sanchez would hang himself at the Yolo County Jail on the eve of his trial, while the minors who were 13 and 15 served time at the CYA until they turned 21.
Mr. Young apparently had a difficult life in prison. He was written up many times for offenses which were both serious and administrative in nature. He had drug problems over the years, continuing until very recently the history of drug abuse that began when he was 13.
He attempted suicide twice in 2008, which followed a string of setbacks.
But the Enterprise writes, “But Young said it was his second suicide attempt that turned his life around, convincing him to become clean and sober, take medications to treat his longtime depression and join multiple support networks within the prison. He also has taken up painting and other forms of art.”
More than 20 people submitted letters to the parole board asking for Mr. Young to be released, including the mother of Brandon Huff.
According to the Davis Enterprise, Marcia Hammill, Mr. Huff’s mother, had spent the early years of Mr. Young’s time in prison speaking against his parole.
But she said in a letter to the parole board, that she has come to an “inner understanding that Mr. Young had paid his dues. If the board sees fit, my family and I have no issues with the board granting Mr. Young parole at this time.”
Brandon Huff also spoke in support of Mr. Young at his parole hearing back in 2007.
The Enterprise reports, ” ‘All I wanted to do was apologize,’ a tearful Young said. ‘It was the only thing I cared about. … I was very happy that he felt that way.’ “
This is a difficult call. On the one hand, I find it interesting that it seems that the Yolo County DA’s Office probably always opposes parole. It would be interesting to see a case where they supported it.
They talk so much about the right of victims, but in this case, the victims believe that he has served his time. He has also apparently made some progress.
Is a 50-year-old really going to be a threat to kidnap someone again?
On the other hand, his in-prison incidents and his turnaround really are not that far in the past. He was still having incidents in 2008. The psychological evaluation is interesting, although it would seem he’s more a threat to use drugs than he is to commit violence.
His next hearing is in 2014, a long time to be sure, but if he manages to stay clean for the time, he will most likely be released.
I do find it interesting that district attorneys like to advocate for victims’ rights when it is in their interest to do so. But often we have seen victims have a very different set of priorities. They need to move on. They often oppose the death penalty, seeking closure over more moderate punitive measures.
The support for victims’ rights seems almost one way only – a tool used to increase the punishment, but rarely are the victims taken into account when they request releases, or new trials to determine whether an individual really did perpetrate the crime, or leniency.
With that said, I think the parole board had a close call here, given the recency of problems with Mr. Young. I would have erred on the side of early release and given the guy a chance to live out the rest of his life and see if he can be a productive citizen. Hopefully he gets another shot in 2014.
—David M. Greenwald reporting