SAN DIEGO — Thousands of inmates could be granted early release under a new change the state implemented during COVID.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is now warning victims, survivors and community members about the potential permanent change.

“This major change could cause the early release of violent offenders onto our streets,” Stephan said.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations increased conduct credits during COVID. The increase in these credits would shorten an inmate’s time in prison, which Stephan says their reason for the change was to have less inmates in the prisons.

The change would increase credits for violent offenders and non-violent second strikers.

“Violent offenders, instead of getting 15% credits so that they get out earlier by 15%, they could get 33% credit,” Stephan said.

“Non-violent second strikers” could see an increase of 66% compared to 50%, according to Stephan. The district attorney’s office uses an example of a 10-year sentence, which the induvial could be released after having served three years and four months, if the proposed regulations are adopted.

“Extending additional credits to inmates with serious and violent criminal histories is not in the interest of justice or the public’s safety. When a judge who hears the evidence and considers the impact on victims hands down a sentence, that sentence should stand and not be altered after the fact except by credits currently provided for under the law,” she said.

Stephan filed a lawsuit, along with 44 other DAs across the state, against CDCR challenging the use of the emergency process for certain early release categories.

Stephan says some non-violent offenders include those who were convicted for domestic violence, human trafficking and those with criminal histories of armed robbery and attempted murder.

“I don’t consider those non-violent, I consider it to be very serious offenses,” Stephan said.

Public comment is being accepted until Wednesday, April 13, following public hearing the day after on April 14.

Any person may submit written comments about the proposed regulations by email to RPMB@cdcr.ca.gov or by mail to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Regulation and Policy Management Branch (RPMB), P.O. Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001. Written comments must be received or postmarked no later than April 13, 2022. All written comments must include the rule number, NCR 22-03, OAL Notice File No. Z2022-0215-10.

There will also be a teleconference hearing during which the public may make comments on April 14, 2022. The teleconference will be opened to the public beginning at 10:00 a.m. If a member of the public would like to participate by teleconference:
• Call 1-877-411-9748 (TTY/TDD: Dial 711).
• When prompted, enter participant code 6032676.