Date: July 20, 2015
PAROLE DENIED 15 YEARS FOR INMATE WHO LED GROUP OF INMATES IN ESCAPE FROM OC JAIL IN 1988
*Inmate was seeking parole date under Elderly Parole Program
SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Board of Parole Hearings (Panel), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, denied parole for 15 years on Friday, July 17, 2015, for an inmate who led an escape from the Orange County Jail (OCJ) in 1988. Michael Douglas Taylor, 62, is currently being held at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, San Diego. In September 1990, Taylor was sentenced to 55 years to life in state prison. Taylor’s sentence was a result of a consolidation of sentences from the inmate’s Orange County robbery convictions, Los Angeles County murder and armed robbery conviction, and Alameda County kidnapping and rape conviction. This case was originally prosecuted by then Deputy District Attorney Ron Cafferty.
Taylor was seeking parole eligibility under the Elderly Parole Program (EPP), instituted in 2014. The EPP stipulates that inmates who are at least 60 years old and have been incarcerated for a minimum of 25 years of their determinate or indeterminate sentence are eligible to be referred to the Panel for a parole hearing. These inmates are still required to prove that they have established a viable reentry plan with secure residential, financial and social integration plans, and do not pose a danger of unreasonable risk to public safety.
Senior Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Jim Mendelson was present at the hearing to oppose Taylor’s release, and represent one of the victims from one of the inmate’s 1988 Orange County jewelry store robberies. A Los Angeles County deputy district attorney was also present along with a video conference feed from Alameda County, in which the victim and an Alameda County deputy district attorney made victim impact statements during the hearing opposing the inmate’s release. Taylor received the maximum possible denial term of 15 years and will be eligible for his next parole hearing in 2030.
Circumstances of the Escape from Orange County Jail
Taylor, then 35 years old, was the mastermind of a 1988 escape of five inmates from OCJ. Taylor and the other inmates tied together clothing and bedsheets and rappelled down a wall from a rooftop exercise area. He had been in custody on seven felony counts of armed robbery in Orange County along with one felony count of kidnapping at the time of the escape. In addition to the Orange County robberies, he was convicted of first degree murder which occurred during a 1987 attempted robbery of a jewelry store in Los Angeles County. After escaping OCJ, Taylor and an accomplice kidnapped and raped a woman in January 1989 in Alameda County.
Taylor was included on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 10 Most Wanted list, and featured on the ‘America’s Most Wanted’ television show. It was Taylor’s appearance on the show seen by the Alameda County victim that led to his identification and subsequent capture as he attempted to pawn stolen jewelry in Rapid City, South Dakota in May 1989. His sentence from Orange County, together with subsequent sentences from Los Angeles and Alameda Counties, resulted in his total sentence of 55 years to life in state prison.
Lack of Acceptance or Responsibility and Unreasonable Risk of Danger
Taylor’s 15-year parole denial was based on the unreasonable risk of danger the inmate poses to public safety. The Panel’s head commissioner noted that while typically with such an advanced age, risk of future violence is greatly reduced, but in Taylor’s case it is not so. The Panel cited Taylor’s lack of credibility and truthfulness, lack of insight into why he became such a vile criminal, as well as his lack of remorse and empathy, and continued attempts of manipulation in their decision. Taylor has also accrued more than nine major prison rules violations, including conspiracy to escape, mutual combat, and defrauding the public by unauthorized business dealings while in prison.
Pursuant to Marsy’s Law, the Alameda County victim delivered an impact statement at the hearing and told Panel about the horrendous nature of the inmate’s actions. Senior DDA Mendelson read an impact statement on behalf of John Price, a victim of one of Taylor’s Orange County robberies. In 1988, Price owned a jewelry store in Huntington Beach, when he was robbed by Taylor and his accomplices. In Price’s impact statement, he discussed the nature of Taylor’s actions during the robbery, and in part described Taylor as, “Not an emotional robber … it is a business for him…he was that kind of a methodical guy … he knew what he was doing …a nd he was good at it.” Price, who had pursued Taylor and his accomplices after the robbery of his jewelry business, with gunfire exchange, told the Panel in his written statement that as a result of Taylor’s actions, he and his wife decided to close the business and move out of the state.
After the Panel’s head commissioner informed Taylor of the 15-year denial, Taylor responded, “I am not Charlie Manson.” The inmate then looked over at the video conference screen and his 1989 kidnapping and rape victim and proclaimed, “See you again in a couple of years!”
The inmate continues to pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society outside of prison based on his lack of insight and absence of a viable reentry plan. Taylor’s lack of remorse and inability to follow the rules in a structured prison setting offset special consideration of his advanced age, long term confinement and diminished physical health, and the inmate will not be released.