By Julietta Bisharyan
SACRAMENTO – California Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday commuted the sentences or criminal histories of over three dozen current or former felons, including 10 pardons that may aid immigrants facing the possibility of deportation.
Pardons do not erase convictions, but can help ease the criminal histories of immigrants that would otherwise be used as the basis for their deportations. One of the 10 is currently in a federal immigration facility.
“Their deportations would be an unjust collateral consequence that would harm their families and communities,” said Newsom’s office.
Besides the 10, Newsom signed off 22 pardons, 13 commutations and four medical reprieves –– prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state corrections secretary and a federal court-appointed official recommended the medical risk clemency review to free space within the state’s prison system to mitigate the spread of the virus or allow for safer treatment. They are in addition to thousands of other earlier releases.
A reprieve allows incarcerated individuals to serve their sentences in alternative locations in the community temporarily.
Recipients included 42-year-old David Diaz, who was arrested in 1998 for shooting a rival gang member.
In 1999, the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, sentenced Diaz to life of sentence enhancements, totaling to 37 years to life in prison. He was only 19 at the time of the crime.
Throughout his 22 years of incarceration, Diaz has maintained his innocence. He has participated in self-help programming, earned a paralegal certificate and has enrolled in college courses. Currently, Diaz works as a peer mentor in the substance abuse disorder treatment program.
“This act of clemency for Mr. Diaz does not minimize or forgive his conduct or the harm it caused. It does recognize the work he has done since to transform himself,” reads Newsom’s commutation.
Newsom has also granted commutations for those convicted of murder, second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and carjacking.
Since taking office, Newsom has granted a total of 63 pardons, 78 commutations and four reprieves.
Julietta Bisharyan is a fourth-year student at UC Davis, currently majoring in English and minoring in Art History and Professional Writing. She is from South San Francisco.
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