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 to public safety 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.
Information about some of the 278 inmates sentenced from Sacramento County who have been granted early release is posted on www.sacda.org. Monthly press releases are issued to provide the public with a sampling of recent noteworthy offenders, including:
Damon Mathews (Case #03F00818) – Mathews is a self-admitted member of the criminal street gang South Side Compton Crips. In June 1990, he was convicted of second-degree murder with a gun enhancement. In that case, Mathews and an accomplice drove a stolen car into rival gang area. As they drove down the street, Mathews fired a .38 caliber revolver out of the passenger side window at several people. His accomplice fired out of the driver's side window at several others, striking a female bystander three times. The victim was transported to a hospital where she died. During a police vehicle pursuit, Mathews threw both guns out of the window of the stolen car. The accomplice later stated to police that he and Mathews drove to the area to shoot Tragniew Park Compton Crips. Mathews was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison for this shooting spree. During Mathews' incarceration over his lifetime of crime, he received 18 prison violations starting in 1991 to 2004. The violations included extortion/threatening force, destruction of state property, under the influence of alcohol, possession of inmate manufactured alcohol, assault on staff, mutual combat, battery on an inmate and possession of dangerous contraband (razor blade, jigsaw cutting blade, metal rod). In 2013, Mathews was granted parole. However, he was not released from custody because he was convicted of smuggling controlled substances into prison with a strike allegation in 2003. Mathews was sentenced to 6 years consecutive to his life sentence. Opposition Letter
Dennis Threets (Case #13F06754) – In 1987, Threets was convicted of involuntary manslaughter with the personal use of a deadly weapon. In that case, Threets and the victim got into a verbal argument. Even though the victim had not physically touched or threatened Threets, Threets retrieved a hunting knife and stabbed the victim once in the chest. Witnesses stated Threets “went crazy.” When the victim was on the ground dying from his stab wound, Threets then stated to him, “If you want more, I’ll give you more.” Threets received a sentence of 4 years in state prison for fatally stabbing this 35-year-old victim. In 2005, Threets was convicted of another violent offense - felony assault with a deadly weapon. In this second violent attack, Threets stabbed the victim in the chest with a pocket knife after they got into a physical altercation. This victim survived the stabbing. In addition to these two stabbings, Threets has a criminal record spanning more than 25 years, including numerous domestic violence and drug related convictions. His current commitment offenses are felony possession of methamphetamine for sale and possession of marijuana for sale. Threets earned his current sentence of 32 months in state prison. Opposition Letter
Broderick Carl Miller (Case #14F07528) – In 1987, Miller was convicted of robbery. In 2010, he was arrested and convicted for possession of methamphetamine for sale. In 2011, he was arrested and convicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm. While both of these cases were still pending and Miller was out of custody on bond, he committed his current offense in 2014. In that case, officers responded to Miller's residence on a domestic violence disturbance call involving a gun. When officers arrived, they observed that the victim was bleeding from the lips. The victim told officers she and Miller were arguing when out of nowhere, Miller punched her in the face. It happened so suddenly the victim was unable to state how many times Miller struck her. The victim’s one-year-old child was also home with her at the time. After being assaulted, the victim attempted to escape the residence with her baby. While the victim was holding her child, Miller wrapped his hands around her throat and told her he would shoot her. This was likely not an empty threat as officers found a loaded Browning 9mm handgun in the residence along with methamphetamine and marijuana. During a subsequent search of Miller, officers located a 9mm bullet that matched the handgun found in the residence. Miller was convicted of domestic violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to his third prison sentence. Miller’s criminal history goes back nearly 30 years, including a violent and threatening attack on a victim who feared for her life and the safety of her child. Opposition Letter
Dameon Demond Boone (Case #13F05824) – Since 1994, Boone has been convicted of several felony drug possession charges as well as firearm related charges, domestic violence and buying or receiving stolen property. In 1997, Boone was convicted of possession of cocaine for sale and received a sentence of 3 years state prison. When he was released from prison, he was returned to custody three times for parole violations. In 2002, Boone was again convicted of felony possession of narcotics and sentenced to prison. In 2006, Boone was convicted of two violent armed robberies. In those cases, Boone and his co-defendant robbed two victims at gunpoint on the same day. The first victim was walking home when Boone and his co-defendant shoved him against a fence, pulled out handguns and went through the victim’s pockets before forcing him into an alley and patting him down. Later that same evening, Boone and his co-defendant robbed a second victim at gunpoint. After leading police on a high-speed chase and a subsequent foot pursuit, Boone was apprehended. Boone was sentenced to 8 years state prison for these offenses. After being released from prison in 2011 and one month after being discharged from parole in 2013, Boone was arrested for his commitment offense of selling cocaine base. Opposition Letter
The Early Prison Releases webpage can be found at www.sacda.org/early prison releases.
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