By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The children, mothers, and former prisoners posing for a group picture at the Capitol don't know each other but they're all fighting for the same cause: early prisoner release.

"We want to make sure they are the best people they can possibly be when they come home," said Taina Vargas-Edmond.

Vargas-Edmond joined the effort after her husband was locked away for 10 years for robbery. She says under Proposition 57, nonviolent inmates may be considered for early release from prison and can earn credits for good behavior. But advocates say the voter-approved measure isn't broad enough.

"Give him a second chance," said Audrey Parker.

Parker says her son is serving time for an attempted murder charge he committed as a teenager. But she says he's grown from completing programs while incarcerated and wants corrections officials to consider extending the early release law to prisoners sentenced before they were old enough to know any better.

"Now he's a man, a changed man," she said.

She's here alongside friends whose children are doing time under the state's three-strikes law. They want Proposition 57 to apply to third-strike offenders too.

"My son has been back and forth, but they've been nonviolent crimes," said Debora Sires.

But critics put Proposition 57 in the same category as AB109 which is aimed at releasing nonviolent offenders to reduce prison overcrowding.

Since both programs have been put in place, 272 inmates sentenced from Sacramento County alone have been granted early release, according to the Sacramento County District Attorneys Office.

Law enforcement and district attorneys statewide have long taken issue with the words "nonviolent."

"It's not just crimes they're in prison for, but other crimes they've had in the past," said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

The state's early release measures are renewing the debate after court records revealed that Thomas Daniel Littlecloud, accused in the shooting death of Sacramento County Deputy Robert French, was released early.

Court records show the 32-year-old from the Bay Area had been on the run for weeks and missed several court appearances where he faced drug, weapons, and theft charges. But under state law, the crimes he committed are deemed nonviolent.

"Of course we always are given pause when someone loses their life. The perception is organizations like ours aren't concerned about public safety. We're very concerned, and what we acknowledge is the way the prison system is working right now, it's actually failing to keep communities safe," said Vargas-Edmond.

  1. On one hand, this sad group of “Friends of Thugs” does have a point: long prison sentences may not be the best punishment.

    Most of their robbery and drug dealer crimes are better punished, “the old-fashioned way.”

    For thieves, 100 lashes with a cat o’ nine tails whip, then release them with a warning.
    If you’re caught robbing people again, its 200 lashes.

    For drug dealers, immediate hanging. In Iran, they use construction cranes to execute traffickers.
    All drug dealers deserve the death penalty for spreading their poison into our community.
    Just one druggie can destroy hundreds of lives and families.

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