A new Yolo County District Attorney’s Office website lists the names of inmates released early on parole, joining Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office in pubicly releasing parolees’ names.
Yolo officials tout the site launched this week as a community service, informing Yolo County residents of designated nonviolent second strike offenders sentenced in Yolo County and released early from California prisons.
Inmates serving time for violent felonies and those registered as sex offenders are not eligible for early parole. Inmates must also have served at least 50 percent of their sentence or be within a year of the 50 percent threshold to be eligible for consideration, said Yolo County DA’s officials.
Most citizens have no idea that serious criminals are being released from prison early under these new state programs.
Jeff Reisig, Yolo County district attorney
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But prosecutors in Woodland also contend the threat from early released parolees remains.
“These are very serious, violent offenders being released to Yolo County,” Jonathan Raven, Yolo County Chief deputy district attorney, said Thursday. “We want our community members to be aware. We want them to be on notice.”
In a statement announcing the website’s launch, DA officials cited examples including a man sentenced to 10 years in state prison convicted of attempting to poison his wife’s drink with acetone following a domestic violence incident.
Another, officials said, led authorities on a high-speed chase including a wrong-way dash down a freeway and had a criminal record that included convictions for attempted murder and residential burglary. A third engineered a rash of car thefts and home burglaries that originally earned him a nearly 13-year state prison sentence before his early release, officials said.
So far, 29 inmates sentenced in the county and deemed nonviolent have been granted early parole by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation since January 2015, according to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.
The website contains the parolee’s name, a brief narrative of their criminal history, prosecutors’ letters in opposition to their early release and decisions rendered by state corrections officials.
The site, http://yoloda.org/early-prison-releases, has begun to attract eyeballs on social media, Raven said, with more than 2,000 hits and nearly 1,000 visitors to the page.
Locally, Yolo joins neighboring Sacramento County, whose district attorney, Anne Marie Schubert, launched her office’s website in November 2015. Schubert, too, voiced concerns about the release of second-strike offenders saying at the time that many continue to pose a danger to residents.
In March, Schubert’s office began releasing monthly updates of early prison releases of nonviolent second strikers.
Yolo and Sacramento County’s district attorneys offices appear to be in select company with websites that identify released nonviolent second-strike offenders, though other prosecutors’ offices around the state are discussing the possibility of developing their own sites, said Sean Hoffman, director of legislation at the Sacramento-based California District Attorneys Association.
Raven said Yolo officials have “spoken to a lot of DA’s offices around the state,” with many saying they have either launched or are considering launching their own websites to post the names of second-strike offenders granted early parole.
The issue of early release arose in the last decade, with the state’s prison population swelling to near twice its capacity in late 2006. The federal courts then got involved, first ordering the state in 2009 to reduce its prison population. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the order.
That paved the way for reduction strategies, including realignment whereby courts sentence inmates who committed lower-level crimes to county jail instead of state prison, along with rehabilitation and, starting in 2015, early parole consideration for nonviolent second-strike offenders.
“Most citizens have no idea that serious criminals are being released from prison early under these new state programs,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, in a statement announcing the website, saying the site was designed to “improve the transparency of the state’s early release decisions.”