SACRAMENTO – Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) today submitted a letter to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) during a public comment period regarding proposed regulations that could lead to the early release of dangerous "nonviolent" inmates and diminish victim rights.
“The state is on the verge of approving regulations that could jeopardize public safety, and it’s important for concerned Californians to make their voices heard,” said Senator Bates. “I sent my own letter expressing my concerns about dangerous ‘nonviolent’ inmates being released early into our communities, and I hope many others will join me.”
In November 2016, California’s voters approved Proposition 57, which increased the number of inmates eligible for parole consideration and authorized CDCR to award sentencing credits to “nonviolent” inmates.
While many people who voted for Prop. 57 thought they were giving “nonviolent” inmates such as shoplifters and drug users a break, the state’s definition of “nonviolent” is problematic. Under state law, “nonviolent” felonies include:
- Human trafficking of a minor for labor
- Battery with serious bodily harm
- Assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer
- Solicitation to commit murder
- First degree burglary
- Arson causing physical harm
- Hate crimes
- Exploding a bomb with intent to harm
While felons of the above crimes will not necessarily be released early into communities when reviewed for parole, the possibility that they are eligible through a mere “paper” review process concerns Senator Bates. CDCR has issued emergency regulations that state that prisoners convicted of “nonviolent” sexual offenses such as rape of an unconscious person will not be eligible for early release. However, the regulations do not cover all sexual offenders required to register, nor do they cover the crimes listed above and others that include acts or threats of violence.
Earlier this year, Senator Bates authored Senate Bill 75 that would have expanded the definition of “violent” felonies to address some of the issues raised by Prop. 57. A Senate committee rejected her bill on a partisan vote.
CDCR has opened a public comment period on Prop. 57 that will conclude with a public hearing in Sacramento on September 1, 2017. The public comment period is a chance for Californians to influence the final regulations of Prop. 57 to ensure that such criminals continue to serve their sentences.
Comments can be sent in one of three ways:
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Attention: Regulation and Policy Management Branch
P.O. Box 942883|
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
(916) 324-6075, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Attention: Regulation and Policy Management Branch
Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) represents the 36th Senate District in the California Legislature, which covers South Orange County, North San Diego County and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.