In Jan 2015, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) started a new process of determining parole and early prison releases. This was after a federal court directed California to reduce overcrowding in prison.
As a result, the inmates characterized as being Nonviolent Second-Strikers (NVSS) qualified for early parole.
And in November 2016, nonviolent prisoners who transform their lives in prison were also eligible for early parole. This was under a new act called Nonviolent Parole Review (NVPR).
Early Prison Releases: Qualifications for NVPR & NVSS
In order to qualify for the CDCR Early Prison Release programs, the inmate must:
- Not be a violent offender (can’t be serving sentence for violent crimes)
- Must not be required to register as a sex offender upon release
NVSS prisoners must have served 50% of their sentences or be within 12-months of finishing their sentences.
NVPR inmates should have served the base terms for their principal offenses and earned additional conduct credits.
Early Prison Releases: How NVPR & NVSS Are Awarded
Before granting the paroles, the Board of Prison Hearings (B.P.H) will consider several factors.
The aim is to determine whether NVPR or NVSS offenders would pose an unreasonable threat to the public safety. The determinant factors include prisoners:
- Criminal history
- Behavior in prison
- Rehabilitation efforts
- Medical condition, whether it might influence him/her to re-offend
- Written statements
However, this process is different from the regular parole hearings in the several ways. Here there is no:
- Appearance of prosecutors
- Appearance of attorneys
- Appearance of victims
Early Prison Releases: Evidence-Based Safety & Risk Assessment
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office is the one mandated to evaluate NVPR and NVSS cases. Based on several factors, the office pens opposition remarks to BPH about those inmates who pose public risks when released.
NVPR cases are particularly concerning because prosecutors are denied the access to records of prisoner’s behavior behind bars. It concerns because:
- Such records are critical to rehabilitation,
- Inmates aren’t allowed to appeal an initial parole decision.
Current List of Early Prison Releases
Some critics argue that since some of these inmates are violent and have long criminal records, the public should be alerted upon their release. Ever since the adoption of this process, monthly press releases have been issued to notify the public of noteworthy offenders. So far 278 have been publicized. Among them include:
Damon Mathews (Case #03F00818)
In the case, Mathews gunned down a female bystander, amidst a shoot-out which emerged after he stole a car. Mathews was therefore sentenced to: 17-years in prison and life in jail.
But in between 1991 and 2004, Mathews received 18 prison violations. The violations included:
- Extortion/threatening force.
- Destruction of state properties, due to alcoholic-influence
- Possession of some inmate-manufactured alcohol
- Assault on staff
- Mutual combat
- Battery on one inmate
- Possession of dangerous tools (razor blade, metal rod, and jigsaw cutting blade). Mathews was granted parole in 2013.
However, he wasn’t released from the custody since he had been convicted again of smuggling illegal substances into the prison.
Dennis Threets (Case #13F06754)
Threets was convicted in 1987 of involuntary manslaughter after stabbing an innocent person. However, after the accidental stabbing, Threets told the victim that “If you want some more stabs, I’ll give you.”
Threets was sentenced 4-years in state prison. Threets was later reimprisoned for:
- Stabbing another person
- Domestic violence
- Drug possession.
Broderick Carl Miller (Case #14F07528)
Since 1987, Miller has been convicted of various charges including:
- Possession of methamphetamine.
- A felon, possessing a firearm.
- Domestic violence
- A violent and threatening attack
Dameon Demond Boone (Case #13F05824)
Boone has been severally convicted since 1994. The charges include:
- Felony drug possession.
- Possession of a firearm.
- Domestic violence
- Receiving or buying stolen property.
- Possession of cocaine
- Parole violations.
- Possession of narcotics
- Violent, armed robberies (two times).
And after completing his sentences, Boone was again arrested in 2013 for selling cocaine.