Orange County DA Opposes Early Release of 76,000 Prisoners 

Orange County DA Opposes Early Release of 76,000 Prisoners 
A stock photo shows activity in the Theo Lacy Facility, a county jail in Orange, Calif. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
Vanessa Serna

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has joined 43 California counties in filing a civil lawsuit against the early release of 76,000 state inmates.

“It is my job as district attorney to keep Orange County safe,” Spitzer said in a press release on May 26. “The public must be given the opportunity to question why the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would decide that returning murders, child molesters, and rapists back into our neighborhoods more quickly somehow constitutes an emergency.”

The lawsuit filed in Sacramento Superior Court is intended to invalidate emergency regulations by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to release state prisoners that receive credit for good behavior.

The CDCR said it would begin increasing the good conduct credit rate for eligible inmates on May 1, affording them an opportunity for early release.

Approved by the California Office of Administrative Law, the move comes as the state looks to increase good behavior incentives of those incarcerated by allowing a reduction of prison time for the well-behaved.

Of those eligible, 63,000 inmates currently incarcerated due to violent crimes will be able to attain “good behavior credits” that will allow them to reduce sentences by one-third. The figure includes 20,000 inmates sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Prior to the new rule becoming effective, good behavior credits only granted a one-fifth reduction of prison sentences.

The new law would also allow 10,000 inmates who are imprisoned for a second nonviolent offense under California’s three-strikes law to have their sentences reduced to one-half instead of one-third. Another 2,900 inmates who were convicted of a third nonviolent strike will get similar reductions. In essence, the inmates will receive one day of credit for every day served.

CDCR spokeswoman Vicky Waters has said the new measures won’t result in the automatic release of any inmate.

“Under the statute, incarcerated individuals are able to receive credits for good behavior and participation in the rehabilitation program,” Waters told The Epoch Times. “Proposition 57, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016 and upheld in November, gave the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation the authority to submit regulations to provide additional opportunities for incarcerated people to receive these good conduct credits.

“This effort incentivizes incarcerated individuals to have sustained good behavior and encourages them to participate in rehabilitative and educational programs, which can help reduce recidivism to make our communities safer. Our department’s focus is on a person’s rehabilitation and accountability in a manner that is consistent with public safety.”

Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Carrie Braun previously told The Epoch Times the department is concerned about both past and potential future victims of crime if the inmates are released prematurely.

“Victims of any crime should be and are of primary importance,” Braun told The Epoch Times. “From the sheriff’s department perspective, we’re very concerned not only about people who have already been the victims of crimes from these individuals, but anyone potentially who could be impacted if someone who were released were to recidivate.”