|For Immediate Release
June 29, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY AND 17 POLICE CHIEFS SEND LETTER TO LAWMAKERS TO PROTEST “NO PAROLE” EARLY RELEASE OF DANGEROUS FELONS
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, 16 police Chiefs, and the Orange County Sheriff sent a letter today to California lawmakers in opposition to a State proposal for the “no parole” early release of dangerous felons into the community from prison. The proposal would allow for the early release of convicted felons on “no parole” for those deemed “low-risk” based on their most recent conviction, regardless of past convictions for violent crimes and without consideration for public safety and the good of the greater community.
The 7-page opposition letter was sent by District Attorney Rackauckas and his Acting Chief of the Bureau of Investigation, the Sheriff of Orange County, and the Chiefs of Police from the Cities of Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Tustin, and Westminster.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Edmund Brown, the leadership and local elected member of the State Senate and Assembly were sent copies of the letter today, outlining concerns that the “no parole” release of felons will compromise public safety and law enforcements’ ability to monitor dangerous criminals.
The term early release “no parole” means that felons designated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) as “non-violent” and “low-risk” criminals would be released from prison without any supervised or unsupervised contact with law enforcement, despite the fact that they have “historically exhibited an inability to comply with the law.”
The opposition letter addresses several concerns with this proposal. First, there has been no clear definition of “non-violent” or “low-risk,” and the terms only apply to the felon’s most recent conviction for which they are incarcerated, not for any other dangerous, violent felonies for which the felon may have previously been incarcerated.
Second, the CDCR proposed “point system” for identifying candidates for early release may “understate the risk posed by the felons,” as “felons convicted of having multiple serious or violent felonies in a single trial” would be counted as having a single conviction.
Third, the potential financial savings by the State will be shifted to local governments. Citing a 70 percent parolee recidivism rate, the letter explains that “no parole” early release may cause a “significant increase in the costs and burdens imposed on local policing, prosecution, courts, probation, and incarceration.
Finally, the proposal makes no accommodation for informing local law enforcement of those felons subject to “search and seizure,” which means that law enforcement will not know who they can legally search.