New plans to give time reduction credits for nearly every inmate statewide
Thanks to a recent ballot measure, California will soon be drafting new plans to give time reduction credits for nearly every inmate statewide. Your voice could help shape those changes.
“Once the draft regulations are published, there will be a 45-day written public comment period,” said Taina Vargas-Edmond, Founder and Executive Director of Initiate Justice (IJ). “All written comments submitted to CDCR (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) must be responded to,” she said.
After the public comment period, a public hearing at CDCR’s headquarters in Sacramento will happen.
“Currently, we are waiting for the draft regulations to be released, which will hopefully reflect some of the changes we have been fighting for,” Vargas-Edmond said.
Initiate Justice is a policy-driven nonprofit built by and for incarcerated people, formerly incarcerated people, and their loved ones, said Vargas-Edmond. IJ is currently working on how to implement Proposition 57, the initiative that allows for the credit revisions. The proposition passed in November with 64 percent of the vote.
The initiative created early release consideration for people serving sentences for nonviolent offenses and expanded time reductions for people in CDCR. Only those serving life without possibility of parole and on Death Row are excluded. The measure also eliminated the ability of district attorneys to prosecute juveniles in adult courts, giving that power to a judge instead.
“CDCR was granted much flexibility in how they implement the nonviolent parole consideration and credit-earning aspects of the legislation.” Vargas-Edmond said.
Last March, CDCR released temporary new regulations. IJ responded by mailing CDCR’s temporary regulations to more than 2,300 incarcerated people, along with an informational flyer.
The flyer stated that beginning May 1, 2017, good time credits would be expanded; on July 1, 2017, a Public Safety Screening for nonviolent early parole consideration would begin; and on Aug. 1, 2017, Milestones and Educational Merit Credits will take effect.
Additionally, IJ, in conjunction with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), surveyed incarcerated people regarding the proposed changes. They found that incarcerated people wanted to:
Include Third Strikers and Lifers in non-violent early parole consideration
Allow all people in prison to earn 50 percent good-time credits
Make all good-time credit earning retroactive
Allow every Youth Offender or Elderly Parole Hearing eligible person to earn time off of their earliest parole hearing date
Award retroactive Education Merit Credits for each achievement
IJ also went to Sacramento to seek support from the staff of several state legislators, as well as CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan.
CDCR is creating its draft regulations based on the temporary regulations. Inmate response will also help determine those draft regulations.
“Initiate Justice will continue to push for our demands through the budget process and the Regular Regulations process,” Vargas-Edmond said. “The fight is not over, and it is now more critical than ever that people who are in prison, and their loved ones, have their voices heard.”
Initiate Justice encourages interested parties to join the Initiate Justice mailing list. Write to: PO Box 4962, Oakland, CA 94605.
You can also email the organization: firstname.lastname@example.org.