By David M. Greenwald
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Judith S. Craddick reinstated a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against CDCR preventing them from awarding 66 percent custody credits to second-strikers until an appeal is filed.
According to a release, “This ruling allows the Third District Court of Appeals to consider the issues raised in the trial court’s previous denial of a preliminary injunction.”
On December 30, 2021, Judge Ray Cadei issued the TRO against CDCR preventing them from awarding those additional credits, but on January 20, the Court declined to issue a preliminary injunction allowing CDCR to begin issuing those credits.
The judge reissued the TRO to allow an appeal filed by 28 elected DAs, led by Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert and including Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig.
“CDCR believes they can increase conduct credits by 100% without ever giving victims and the public the right to meaningful participation in this process,” stated Schubert.
“Most people would be surprised to learn that under California law, crimes like felony domestic violence and human trafficking are not ‘violent’ felonies. An individual with a prior violent felony record who is convicted of felony domestic violence should not be serving 1/3 or less of his or her sentence,” she said.
Schubert added, “I am pleased that the Court reinstated the TRO against CDCR today as this is a critical public safety issue for crime victims and all Californians. Proposition 57 and the California Constitution guarantees the public and crime victims the right to be heard in a public forum. This lawsuit is simply asking that CDCR honor the Constitution and the will of the voters.”
Jeff Reisig was one of 28 DAs to sign onto the lawsuit and applauded the ruling by the court.
“It’s critical that decisions that reward credits to individuals with violent criminal histories be handled transparently and not behind closed doors,” said Reisig. “Many individuals in state prison have earned the right to get credits, one example being those working in the fire camps. Credits are a means to reward and incentivize. People who have done nothing to rehabilitate should not automatically be rewarded credits.”
This follows efforts from Schubert and other DAs, including Reisig, this summer to attempt to block a good time credit early release program enacted by CDCR.
“Getting out of prison—let’s be honest—for doing nothing,” Schubert said at a press conference in August. “Our government is now letting them out early for, in fact, doing no rehab at all.
“Can you imagine that—thousands of murderers and sex offenders in our prison system, getting out early for doing nothing more than not misbehaving at a time when we see today and pretty much every day on the news that violent crime in this state and in this country is surging,” she continued. “How is that safe for our society?”
Earlier this month, the Committee on Revision of the Penal Code released a report recommending a series of reforms to sentencing which include repealing the Three Strikes law, and of particular interest was disallowing the doubling of sentences for prior strikes when the new offense is not serious or violent.
Currently, the committee found, “More than 33,000 people in prison are serving a sentence lengthened by the Three Strikes law — including more than 7,400 people whose current conviction is neither serious nor violent.”
That figure represents about one third of the total prison population, and 80 percent of those sentenced under the Three Strikes Law are people of color.
But Schubert has taken issue with such reforms starting in 2015, and, according to the release, she “began opposing and publicizing the early release of ‘nonviolent’ second-strike felons.”
She said, “Under California law, ‘nonviolent’ felonies include domestic violence, rape of an unconscious person, human trafficking, and assault with a deadly weapon. ‘Second strike’ refers to an inmate who was previously convicted of a serious or violent felony.
“Many of these so-called ‘nonviolent’ second-strikers have long and violent criminal histories – including repeat felony domestic violence convictions, sexual assaults and gun violence,” said District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert. “Releasing these dangerous inmates after serving a small fraction of their sentences not only lacks accountability, it shortens effective rehabilitation, violates victims’ rights and is a significant threat to public safety. No one is contesting good conduct credits for fire camp work, but sneaking in another class of individuals with serious and violent criminal histories goes too far.”
District Attorney Jeff Reisig added, “Violent crime has been steadily increasing across most of California. Promoting more early releases of prison inmates who have been convicted of heinous crimes or who have violent records, without any confirmation of rehabilitation, is not making anyone safer.”
The report from earlier this month found that Yolo County ranked as sixth in the state in terms of most people sentenced, either as a second or third strike. Sacramento was just behind Yolo at eighth on the list.
The report concludes: “Given the discretion that prosecutors have to charge and judges have to dismiss Three Strikes enhancements, this data suggests a disturbing trend: when the criminal system has the option to punish more harshly, it does so disproportionately against people of color.
“Concerns that the law disproportionately impacted people of color began a few years after it was passed. People of color, particularly Black people, are arrested and prosecuted at disproportionate rates, and the Three Strikes law perpetuates these disparities by subjecting people to harsher penalties once they become justice-involved,” they continue.
They find, “While Black people account for less than 30% of the entire prison population, they account for 45% of people serving a third strike sentence.”