El Dorado County DA speaks out against early California prisoner releases

Local News

EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – The early release of prison inmates throughout counties across California has angered several district attorneys.

“This is broader than just El Dorado County. This is impacting the entire state of California,” El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson told FOX40 Monday. “The people being released now are some of the most serious, most violent offenders.” 

According to Pierson, Vincent Garcia is one of them. He was set free early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“He’s already violated his parole. And then he was arrested for numerous crimes,” Pierson explained.

Garcia was paroled for crimes of possessing a firearm and false imprisonment, with a previous strike for first-degree burglary.

Following his release, Pierson said Garcia reoffended by committing robbery, burglary, possessing a firearm and domestic violence.

Law enforcement searched for him for days while he made threats to shoot El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies.

“He’s a dangerous person and he’s reoffended multiple times. And he should not have been out of custody at the time he reoffended,” Pierson said. 

Pierson said the issue comes down to recidivism, citing a five-year study from 2012 to 2017 that followed 34 states on recidivism.

The study showed that 62% of inmates were arrested within three years of their release and 71% were arrested within five years.

The inmate population has dwindled from 160,000 to just more than 90,000 which Pierson said is due in part to the legislature, along with actions taken by former Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“On this mission to see how many convicted criminals can they release, and how soon can they release them,” Pierson said.

Aside from putting the public in danger, Pierson said the early prisoner releases also endangered those who live in fire-prone areas.

In years past, lower-level inmates became inmate firefighters who battled the fires to shorten their sentences but now has become more difficult to find firefighters eligible for the program.

In opposition to early inmate releases, multiple district attorneys have filed a lawsuit hoping it will force the Department of Corrections to go through a formal process before any future rule changes regarding inmate releases and allow the public to weigh in.

Pierson said criminals need to be held accountable for their actions.

“Working in the California legislature there is an awful lot of people that have been elected to represent us that genuinely have the mindset that we shouldn’t hold people accountable for violent crimes that they commit,” Pierson said. “Instead, what we should do is offer them a social worker and counseling.”

FOX40 reached out to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation but have yet to hear a response.

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