Repeated offenders with serious and violent criminal histories may see earlier prison release dates under California’s “three strikes” law.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shama Mesiwala lifted a temporary restraining order imposed last month, which prevented correctional officials from acting on emergency regulations, such as increasing good conduct credits.
These credits could be earned by second-strike inmates serving time for nonviolent offenses who are housed at minimum-security prisons and camps.
With the judge's action of lifting the order, the daily credits may be worth up to two-thirds off their prison sentences. According to a corrections department spokesperson, this ruling “provides an incentive for incarcerated people to participate in positive rehabilitative activities and avoid negative behavior”.
Good conduct credits were introduced last May as an effort to decrease prison populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was estimated that good conduct credits would shorten the sentences for up to 76,000 serious and violent offenders.
Over half of California’s 58 District Attorneys moved to block the judge’s ruling. According to the District Attorneys opposed to the judge's ruling, it would apply to those convicted of serious and violent felonies.
“I just don’t think (CDCR) can be trusted” not to come back again with even more increases in good-conduct credits. “If you go fight a fire, you’re not hearing DAs scream foul,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard said during a Jan. 17 hearing. “But if you stare at a wall you’re getting good-conduct credits. You just don’t have to stab anybody that day.”
However, Mesiwala ruled that prosecutors do not have legal standing to challenge the regulations. According to Mesiwala, “District Attorneys do not represent crime victims, they represent the People of the state”.
Any requests for preliminary injunctions from prosecutors were rejected.