In January 2015, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began a new parole determination process after a federal court ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding. As a result, inmates characterized as “nonviolent second-strikers” (NVSS) became eligible for early parole. In November 2016, Proposition 57 was then passed with the promise that “nonviolent” inmates who “turn their lives around” in prison could also earn early parole under a new “nonviolent parole review” (NVPR).
Qualifying NVSS and NVPR inmates must not currently be serving a sentence for a crime legally categorized as a violent felony and must not be required to register as sex offenders. NVSS inmates must have served (or be within 12 months of serving) only 50 percent of their sentence, while NVPR inmates may be paroled after serving the base term for the principal offense and may earn additional conduct credits.
The Board of Prison Hearings (BPH) determines whether NVSS or NVPR offenders would pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community based on a paper review of prior criminal history, facts of the current commitment offense, behavior in prison, rehabilitation efforts, whether the inmate has any medical condition which might affect the ability to re-offend, and written statements.
Unlike parole hearings - where the prosecution, defense attorney, and victim may appear - there is no public hearing for these BPH administrative reviews. Additionally, no evidence-based risk assessment is conducted prior to consideration of early release to indicate an inmate’s safety risk.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office takes an active role in evaluating NVSS and NVPR cases. For inmates who appear to pose a danger to the public, the office writes opposition letters to BPH with an overview of the inmate’s criminal history and current commitment offense, and an opinion on the public safety risk if an inmate is granted early release. NVPR cases are especially concerning since prosecutors are denied access to records of the inmate’s behavior behind bars, which is critical to rehabilitation, and do not have a right to appeal an early parole decision.
Many of the offenders who are granted early prison release have violent and lengthy criminal histories. District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert feels it is important for the public to be aware of the so-called “nonviolent” offenders being released early from prison into our neighborhoods.
As of November 30, 2017, 297 inmates sentenced from Sacramento County have been granted early prison release. Information about some of these inmates can be found on the Early Prison Releases webpage at www.sacda.org/early-prison-releases. Monthly press releases are issued to provide the public with a sampling of recent noteworthy offenders, including:
Celeste Jordan (Case #13F07499) – Jordan’s criminal history began in 1979 with a misdemeanor burglary conviction, followed by another misdemeanor burglary conviction in 1980. In 1982, he was convicted of felony robbery involving the use of a weapon and received a 4-year prison sentence. Jordan was also convicted of felony second-degree burglary. He was paroled in 1984, but was back in prison in 1985 on a parole violation. He was convicted in 1986 for a first-degree burglary, resulting in another 4-year prison sentence. After being paroled in 1988, he was arrested for auto theft and added another misdemeanor conviction and parole violation
to his record. Jordan was arrested in 1989 for being high on methamphetamine, which put him back in prison in 1990 on a parole violation. Approximately two weeks after his release, he was arrested for robbery and received another parole violation in 1990. He was convicted of felony burglary in 1992, resulting in a 28-month prison sentence. In 1995, Jordan was in Illinois when he committed an armed robbery with a firearm. He received a 12-year prison sentence for this violent offense. After his release, Jordan was convicted of vandalism. He returned to prison in 2003 for an attempted burglary on Christmas 2002. He was paroled in 2004, and went back to prison in 2005 on a parole violation. Jordan then reoffended in 2006 and was convicted of second-degree burglary. He was sentenced to 8 years in prison. In his current 2013 commitment offense, Jordan was convicted for the first-degree residential burglary of one of his relative’s house. Jordan's criminal history is prolific, choosing a life of crime. He has been in jail or prison custody constantly for more than 37 years, since he was 18 years old. He has left a trail of victims in his wake and multiple violent felonies in his past. Opposition Letter
Jimmy Lee Stewart (Case #05F03941) – In 1972, Stewart was sentenced to 6 months in jail for stealing a car. Almost immediately after his release, he stole another car and was sentenced to 1 year in jail. In 1975, Stewart and an accomplice committed a robbery while armed with a gun. In that case, they entered a market and stole money from the register and a handgun from behind the counter. He was sentenced to 6 months to life in prison for this violent offense, but was paroled in 1978 after serving three years. Shortly after his release, Stewart was convicted of being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm and petty theft in 1979. In 1984, he committed six separate first-degree burglaries. Stewart was convicted of all six burglaries and six counts of receiving stolen property. He was sentenced to 12 years, 8 months in prison. After being paroled six years later, he was convicted of petty theft in 1992. In 1993, he was convicted of giving a false identity to a police officer and possession of drug paraphernalia. That same year, Stewart committed another first-degree burglary. While he was in the custody of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, he briefly escaped during an outside medical appointment. Stewart was convicted of the burglary and the escape, resulting in a 14-year, 8-month prison sentence. While on parole from this sentence, he sustained five separate parole violations, including a theft conviction, and was returned to prison custody. Stewart was discharged from parole in April 2005. Less than a month later, he committed another burglary and was convicted of committing his eighth first-degree burglary. Stewart has a criminal history spanning more than 44 years. He has had numerous chances to reform himself, but continued to reoffend. Opposition Letter
Jose Mata (Case #15F07857) – Mata is a violent four-time felon. He began his criminal career in 2000 with a residential burglary, which resulted in a grand theft conviction. In 2002, he threatened a victim and displayed a handgun in the waistband of his pants. He was observed pointing the handgun at a window and threatened to shoot. Mata then pointed the handgun at the victim before a witness took the handgun away from him. The handgun was later determined to be a BB gun. Mata was convicted of brandishing a weapon. In 2006, he was convicted of DUI. In 2007, he burglarized the home of his ex-girlfriend. The victim had two restraining orders against Mata at the time. He was convicted of first-degree residential burglary, admitted to a prior strike allegation, and was sentenced to 4 years in prison. In 2008, Mata was convicted for another DUI and sentenced to jail. In 2012, he was convicted of petty theft with priors, a felony, and admitted his prior strike. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison. Currently, Mata is serving a 4-year prison sentence for violently assaulting his girlfriend. In that case, Mata became aggressive and verbally abusive with the victim. He ripped the victim out of her vehicle, causing her to fall to the ground, and took her car keys. Mata then deliberately stepped on the victim's lower back to get into her car and drove over the front fence of her home. As a result of the assault, the victim suffered abrasions and bruising. The next day, Mata crashed the victim’s car. After the collision, he fled the scene on foot and abandoned the vehicle. In 2016, Mata was convicted of felony domestic violence and he admitted to a prior strike. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Mata has been classified as a Northern Associate gang member. Over the last 16 years, he has victimized people by physically assaulting them and stealing their property. His failure to abstain from criminal conduct demonstrates his continued risk to public safety. Opposition Letter
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