Judge halts custody credit increases for certain prison inmates

California

FILE – In this July 9, 2020, file photo, a correctional officer closes the main gate at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif. A judge on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, temporarily halted California’s plans to speed the potential prison release dates for repeat offenders with serious and violent criminal histories under the state’s “three strikes” law. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A judge Wednesday halted state prison officials from enacting a planned increase in the amount of custody credits some inmates would receive, stemming from a filing brought by more than two dozen California district attorney’s offices, including San Diego County’s.

The temporary restraining order granted by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei prevents the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from increasing good conduct credits from 50% to 66%, which would allow certain inmates to be released after serving a third of their sentences, as opposed to half under the old rules.

In a statement, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said CDCR’s newest regulations — which go into effect Jan. 1 — apply to inmates working in fire camps, but the change would also have applied to “second-strike” inmates.

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, whose office was the lead author of the temporary restraining order filed last week, said in a statement, “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.

“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.”

A CDCR statement issued after the court order stated that the department was “evaluating the order and the scope of its impact on our operations.”

“The department stands by our regulations as drafted and is moving forward with implementing the unaffected portions of the credit-earning regulations as scheduled on January 1, 2022,” the statement read.

“CDCR’s primary mission is public safety, and as part of that mission we will continue to ensure incarcerated people who are making efforts towards their own rehabilitation by maintaining good behavior and participating in programming and rehabilitative opportunities are afforded the chance to earn credits for their efforts.”

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan said, “Releasing inmates early who have committed atrocious crimes after only serving a fraction of their sentence threatens the safety of our communities and is a slap in the face to crime victims who are still suffering.

“My fellow District Attorneys and I do not contest good conduct credits for fire camp work, but extending those credits to inmates with serious and violent criminal histories is not in the interest of justice or the public’s safety.”

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