In January 2015, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) began a new parole determination process, evaluating “non-violent second-strikers” for early parole. If early release is granted, they are released after serving only 50% of their sentences. Under existing law, they would otherwise have to serve 80% of their sentences before being eligible for parole.
Upon receipt of inmate names from CDCR with a recommendation for release, the Board of Parole Hearings [BPH] conducts an administrative review to determine if the inmate should be released early from prison as a ‘non-violent second-striker.’ BPH forwards the names of these eligible inmates to District Attorneys’ offices and invites input in making their determination about the inmate’s potential early release. Unlike parole hearings, where the prosecution, defense attorney and victim may appear, there is no public hearing for these administrative reviews. Rather, the decision is made purely by CDCR administrative staff. Additionally, prior to consideration for early release, no evidence-based “risk assessment” is conducted to determine if the inmate poses a danger to the public.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office takes an active role in evaluating these cases and writes letters to the Board with an overview of the inmate’s criminal history and current commitment offense, an opinion regarding the public safety risk posed by the inmate, and the appropriateness of an offender’s early release. The Board determines whether an offender would pose an unreasonable risk to public safety based on their prior criminal history, facts behind their current commitment offense, behavior in prison, rehabilitation efforts, whether the inmate has any medical condition which might affect his ability to re-offend, and written statements.
In November 2015, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office began posting on its website information about “non-violent second-strike” offenders who have been granted early release from prison.
As of June 30, 2016, 146 inmates sentenced from Sacramento County have been granted early prison releases. Given the number of violent offenders who continue to be granted early release, DA Anne Marie Schubert began monthly updates to provide the public with a sampling of the noteworthy criminals who appear to pose a risk to public safety, but are being granted early release into our community as ‘non-violent second-strikers.’
In the month of June 2016, inmates granted early prison release include:
Richard Amaya – Amaya has a 2014 strike conviction for brandishing a firearm at police. In that case, Amaya broke into his mother’s house when she was not home and vandalized it. He then went out to the front of the house with a rifle. Amaya pointed the rifle at a responding officer before barricading himself inside the home. Efforts by officers to negotiate with Amaya were met with threats and profanity. The SWAT team had to be called in and Amaya was forced out of the house with tear gas. Once in custody, Amaya threatened to kill officers. He was sentenced to 1 year in jail for that offense. Less than 4 months after his release from jail, Amaya committed his current offense of felony evading a peace officer. In that case, Amaya celebrated the Fourth of July by doing U-turns, driving in reverse and driving in the wrong direction in the heavily trafficked vehicle and pedestrian area of terminal A at the Sacramento International Airport. When an officer drove his car in front of Amaya’s car to stop him, Amaya threw his car in reverse, blazed around the patrol car, and raced onto I-5 North. Amaya was pursued by law enforcement for 28 miles. During the chase, Amaya careened across lanes and hit speeds of 125 mph, nearly slamming into other cars. When he was captured, Amaya stated, “f… the police.” Amaya was sentenced to 4 years in prison for his reckless conduct. In 2008, Amaya was convicted of felony inflicting corporal injury upon a child beating a 10-year-old victim. The victim reported that Amaya “playfully” hit her repeatedly. When she asked Amaya to stop, he became enraged and pummeled her face and shoulders. When the victim fell to the floor from the beating, Amaya kicked her, grabbed her by her hair, and dragged her to another room. Amaya received a sentence of 180 days work furlough for this abuse. In 2011, Amaya was convicted of grand theft, where he grabbed a necklace off the victim’s neck and slugged the victim with a weed-eater. The victim sustained a large laceration on his head and cut on his nose. Amaya has also been arrested or convicted of vandalism, entry into a commercial building, being under the influence of a controlled substance, assault with a deadly weapon, child cruelty, obstructing a public officer, DUI, driving without a license, and probation violations. Opposition Letter
Avette Carol Volker – Volker has a 2010 prior strike conviction for robbery. In that case, Volker was the getaway driver in two robberies involving vulnerable female victims. In one of the robberies, the victim was forcibly pulled into the SUV Volker was driving and then thrown (or fell) from the moving vehicle. As a result of a plea bargain, the second count of robbery was dismissed. Volker received a sentence of two years in state prison for this offense. Volker has had at least seven prior prison commitments, starting with a 1987 vehicle theft conviction. In that case, Volker and her friends decided to hitchhike to their destination. Volker then came up with the idea, and incited her accomplices to kill the driver who picked them up and to steal his van. She talked one of her accomplices into beating the victim violently in the head and face with a large rock more than a dozen times, causing his death. Volker then tried to cover the crime by removing the victim’s bloodied clothing and set them on fire, along with bloodied blankets and sheets removed from the victim’s van. Volker testified for the State against her accomplice in exchange for a plea deal, where she was convicted of vehicle theft and received a sentence of 3 years in prison. Other past prison commitments were for multiple felony forgery convictions and buying or receiving stolen property conviction. Volker also has seven prior misdemeanor convictions for multiple forgery convictions, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving on a suspended license. Volker’s current committing offense occurred while she was on parole. In this case, Volker once again stole from others by using numerous victims’ credit card accounts to make fraudulent purchases. Opposition Letter
Daniel Jerome Young – Young has two prior strike convictions for assault with a deadly weapon. The first strike conviction was in 1993 and the second was just one year later in 1994. In both cases, Young committed the assaults using a knife. Since 1984 until present time, Young has committed a vast array of other crimes, including numerous burglaries, grand theft person, narcotics possession, check fraud, trespassing, numerous vandalisms, and possession of a knife. In his current committing offense, Young was found to be in possession of a concealed knife. The discovery stemmed from a report of several car burglaries and vandalisms. Young matched the description of the person seen breaking into one of the vehicles and was then found to be in possession of a concealed knife that had a metal stud attached to one end to crack windows. Young has spent most of his adult life in an out of county jail and prison because of his many arrests, subsequent convictions and probation and parole violations. Young picked up either a substantive offense or violated his parole in 1984, 1985, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015. He was in and out of prison from 1994 until his discharge in 2000 and again from 2011 until 2013. Opposition Letter
The Early Prison Releases webpage can be found at www.sacda.org/early prison releases.
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