Regulating Away Justice

For almost a year now, the administration of California Governor Gavin Newsom has been promulgating and enforcing “emergency” regulations that expand the “good behavior” credits of violent felons. A California “truth in sentencing” statute, like many in the country, limits such credits to 15%. Newsom’s regulations hand them out at more than double this rate, 33.3%.

The administration claims that they are authorized to ignore the law by Proposition 57, an initiative that was sold to the people on the promise that it would remove nonviolent felons from prisons cells to ensure they remained available for the violent ones. CJLF and many others disagree that the proposition gives them this authority. See prior posts here and here.

The latest outrage in the series is the third adoption of substantially the same regulation as an “emergency.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) sent these proposed regs to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on Friday. Yesterday, CJLF sent in our comments. In my opinion, the proposal violates the Administrative Procedure Act so clearly as to be beyond reasonable dispute.

OAL has until next Monday to act. We’ll see.

CDCR has also published a notice for the permanent adoption of these regulations. The report sent to the Legislature estimating the impact said the prison population would be reduced by nearly 10,000 inmates by fiscal year 2023-24. That necessarily means about that many additional felons on the street. Because the main beneficiaries of the change are (1) those convicted of violent felonies, (2) those convicted of two or more “serious” felonies, or (3) those convicted of both violent and repeated crimes, that means thousands of dangerous criminals on the street. We know that recidivism rates are so high that most released prisoners are caught committing another crime within nine years. How many crimes they commit is unknown but surely much higher, given the low clearance rates.

Anyone wishing to comment must do so by April 13. The email address is I encourage everyone opposed to these regulations to say so in a comment.

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