District Attorney Rios joins request asking CDCR Secretary to repeal new inmate credit increases

Lassen County District Attorney Susan M. Rios announced yesterday that she and 40 other elected district attorneys throughout the state, have filed a petition with the CDCR Secretary requesting the repeal of temporary emergency regulations awarding additional credits to over 76,000 state prison inmates.

According to a statement from Rios, the regulations were passed under a claim of an “emergency” and first made public at 3 p.m. Friday April 30. They went into effect, prospectively, the very next day on Saturday May 1.

The CDCR Secretary stated these regulations were necessary to comply with “the direction outlined in the Governor’s Budget Summary” presented a year ago on May 14, 2020. By invoking an emergency, CDCR was able to bypass the traditional regulatory scheme and transparent public comment period. The regulations and their supporting documents do not comply with the requirements of Penal Code section 5058.3 in that no emergency has been cited nor identified, the statement read.

“These credit-earning provisions will significantly shorten the length of sentence for violent and serious offenders, some by up to 50 percent, and are not rationally related to any articulable operational need or circumstance of CDCR,” the statement read.

“The administrative law petition is the first step in seeking a formal court order declaring the regulations unlawful. If the request to CDCR to repeal is denied, the next step will be to file for declaratory relief in court. If the emergency regulations are nullified by a court, CDCR would be forced to pass the regulations in the traditional manner, requiring the State’s Office of Administrative Law to provide greater transparency and public input,” it continued.

District Attorney Rios stated, “On May 11, 2021, representatives from CDCR addressed the Lassen County Board of Supervisors regarding the closure of CCC. One of the reasons cited in support of the closure is that there has been a decrease in the amount and type of inmates that an institution like CCC can accommodate. Yet, CDCR administration then implements these credit provisions which further dwindle the inmate population. The Governor declared an emergency a year ago and the State is currently phasing out of COVID restrictions – so why now the sudden push for release? What is the ’emergency’?

“CDCR keeps using the phrase ‘nonviolent offenders’ when it refers to these regulations. To be clear: the only types of individuals being sentenced to state prison, with rare exception, are the serious and violent criminals. We do not send people to state prison for theft or controlled substance related crimes unless they have specific disqualifiers from local jail commitments. This means that the state prison inmates eligible for these credits are rapists, child molesters, human traffickers, domestic abusers, those who have used a weapon or inflicted great bodily harm on someone, and prior sex offenders or prior “strikers” who have continued to reoffend.

“The ramifications of these changes are too drastic to be made in a shroud of secrecy. In filing this petition, we are asking CDCR to repeal these regulations to allow for transparency and public input. Crime victims deserve that. The general public deserves that.”