Leonard Paul Rubio had seen his share of the prison by the Bay since he began his life term for second-degree murder. In April, amidst legal wrangling with the governor, Rubio paroled after spending 23 years behind San Quentin’s walls.
“This whole process has been an education for me. I was 18 years old when I came in. I went from being four days away from studying engineering at the University of California at Davis to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” he said.
ASSOCIATE OF ARTS
In 1988, Rubio was convicted of the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Heather Dunn, a Benicia High School student.
“I was going through so much that I had bottled up a lot of things. Had I taken the time to get the help I needed, a precious life would not have been taken,” he commented.
The 41-year-old Rubio had spent 20 of his 23 years in vocational programs and had earned his Associate of Arts degree.
“I know that education will continue opening doors for me, but I’m still going to miss the men here because we’ve fought the same battles with the court system and the governor, while at the same time helping each other get through this prison experience,” he said.
The Board of Prison terms had found Rubio suitable for parole twice. The first time the decision was reversed on review because the victim’s family had not received notification of the hearing.
The second time was last year. The governor reversed the board’s decision by applying information that two courts had ruled could no longer be used.
Gov. Schwarzenegger applied Penal Code Section 3058.6 to deny Rubio’s parole recommendations. But the Superior Court of Solano County vacated Schwarzenegger’s recommendations and ordered Rubio’s release on parole.
“This process goes against the current law” Rubio said. “The Lawrence decisions have made the law very clear, yet the board and the governor continue to disregard it. The broken ideology that California’s policy makers have that people in prison cannot change for the better is poisoning this state. And it contributes greatly to three things: the breakdown of an inmate’s family unit, prison overcrowding and California’s out-of-control billion dollar deficit.”
“Now that I am going to be paying taxes,” said Rubio with thoughtful reflection. “I need to speak up because I don’t want to pay for people to be in prison when they have done their time and have taken the programs like I did, because those people should be released.”