California Prison Cuts Approved

August 31, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
South Valley Assembly Member Connie Conway said it's no coincidence finding Jaycee Dugard alive last week at the same time Assembly Members were set to vote on a prison reform bill. She said, "The timing in my mind speaks volumes. Is this a message from somewhere else that we better be darn sure of what we're doing? And we better think twice before we let any of them out."Phillip Garrido, the man suspected of kidnapping Dugard 18 years ago served 10 years of a 50 year sentence for kidnapping and raping another woman in the 1970's. The prison reform bill passed late Monday afternoon includes the early release of 27,000 non-violent or non-serious offenders. But Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said there's no such thing. "People earn their way into the prison system. Generally that means on average 5 convictions before somebody is sent to prison."

Fresno Assemblyman Juan Arambula said the legislation would have zero affect on convicts like Garrido. "This individual would not have been released according to the proposed legislation. This individual in fact I hope would serve a longer sentence."

The Fresno Police Department said of the 27,000 inmates released early about 1,300 will return to Fresno County. That's on top of the 263 inmates released from the Fresno County Jail in August alone. Fresno County Undersheriff Scott Jones said, "It compounds everything. The ones we're releasing, for the most part, are people that can't afford bail. But the people released from prison are people that have already been convicted and serving a sentence."

Chief Dyer, past president of the California Police Chief's Association says the powerful group publicly opposed the prison reform bill until legislators made some changes last week. Now, the Association neither supports nor opposes the bill. Dyer said, "We're in a position right now where you're negotiating with a gun at your head."

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