SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Forty-four district attorneys are suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to stop the potential early release of 76,000 inmates in state prisons.
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and Sutter County District Attorney Amanda Hopper announced the civil lawsuit against the CDCR Monday.
“Allowing the early release of the most dangerous criminals, shortening sentences as much as 50%, impacts crime victims and creates a serious public safety risk,” Schubert said in a press statement.
Previously, Schubert and 40 other state DAs had filed a petition with the CDCR on May 13, the first step toward a formal court order declaring the regulations unlawful. The temporary regulations awarded additional credits to inmates.
Prisoners may earn credits, which “may advance an incarcerated person’s release date or parole hearing eligibility date,” according to the CDCR.
The district attorneys say the award of the additional credits from the temporary regulations would allow the shortening of sentences for over 76,000 inmates. Those emergency regulations, adopted by the CDCR, “were passed and first made public on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 3:00 p.m.,” according to the release.
“The goal is to increase incentives for the incarcerated population to practice good behavior and follow the rules while serving their time, and participate in rehabilitative and educational programs, which will lead to safer prisons,” said Dana Simas, a CDCR spokeswoman, shortly after the regulations were made public.
The group of district attorneys noted that CDCR officials said the regulations were necessary to follow “directions outlined” in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget summary presented on May 14, 2020.
The district attorneys claim that by “invoking an emergency” when adopting the regulations, the CDCR bypassed a regulatory approval process, including a public comment period.
The lawsuit wants California Superior Court to declare the CDCR regulations unlawful and prevent CDCR from shortening inmate sentences through the use of the emergency credits until the traditional approval process is reinstated, which includes adding a “transparent and rigorous public comment period,” according to the release.
“This lawsuit asks the court to enjoin CDCR from awarding these credits unless and until these regulations are exposed to a fair, honest and transparent debate, where the public has input on dramatic changes made through the regulatory process,” Schubert said.