SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Good credits for good behavior, participation in rehabilitation programs and activities while incarcerated could get inmates out of prison after only serving one-third of their sentence. It was the subject of a public hearing held Thursday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation about changes to inmate credit-earning regulations.
A light shined brighter on the subject nearly two weeks ago when Sacramento police announced the arrest of Smiley Martin, on firearms charges, connected to the city’s worst mass shooting that killed six people and injured 12 others.READ MORE: Sacramento Woman Ignores 'Do Not Cross' Sign, Hit And Killed By Car
Martin was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison in 2018 but was released in 2022. In 2017, he was arraigned on charges of kidnapping, domestic violence and felony assault with a deadly weapon court documents show was a belt. In the same charging document, there was an allegation Martin had been previously convicted of robbery, which qualified as a strike under California law.
He would later to agree to enter a plea to the maximum term for domestic violence, which totaled four years. Add to that an additional count of felony assault, which by law, according to a spokesperson for the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, added one year to his sentence.
When Martin admitted to the prior violent strike allegation, his five-year sentence was doubled because of the prior violent strike conviction. In total, he was sentenced to ten years in state prison.
“We are keenly aware of the obstacles presented in the prosecution of domestic violence cases, including the willingness of the victim to participate in the criminal justice process. Our sole objective in this case was to hold Mr. Martin accountable for his conduct with the evidence available to us. The resolution of the case for ten years in state prison served that objective.” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard in a statement through a spokesperson.
Martin’s charges were not considered to be classified as violent under California law, which made him eligible to receive incentive credits.
A spokesperson for the CDCR told CBS13 two days after the mass shooting Martin received 508 days of pre-sentencing credits and received a “variety of post-sentencing credits” that allowed him to be released to Sacramento County probation in February 2022.
His case, and the shooting, were two subjects mentioned by multiple Californians who called into the CDCR’s public hearing Thursday to voice their opinions on making the once-emergency regulation rules for incentive credits permanent.
A spokesperson for CDCR released a statement to CBS13 on Thursday:
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“California has made credit-earning opportunities accessible to eligible incarcerated individuals for many decades, and increasing the rate of credit earning in furtherance of Proposition 57, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2016, provides a compelling reason for individuals to engage in positive programming while serving their time. This can lead to improved behavior and instilling pro-social and vocational/educational skills to assist people in finding success, and avoiding recidivism, after incarceration.”
The statement went on to explain that the latest update to the CDCR’s proposed emergency regulations came in December on Good Conduct Credits.
“We greatly value the engagement and comment from members of the public, and throughout this regulatory process, the department has consistently engaged with various stakeholders to ensure transparency and communication,” Dana Simas, spokesperson for CDCR, said in a statement.
Thursday’s call began with more than 100 people dialed in to share their thoughts and opinions on the changes. Some worked with nonprofits and advocacy groups, and all were in support of giving inmates more opportunities for rehabilitation.
Others were family members of incarcerated inmates, supportive of the changes, hopeful to see their loved ones, sooner than they expected. Other callers were against the change—some in law enforcement and some retired from law enforcement—who believed rehabilitation won’t work if an inmate is let out early.
In the eyes of the law, no inmate would be released “early,” but rather, would have earned Good Behavior Credits to meet the full sentence handed down.
“Under California law, those are considered non-violent crimes, Felony, yes, but not violent crime. That’s insane,” said Assemblymember Jim Cooper who spoke during the public hearing.
He said Martin’s case is one public example of why the regulations don’t work.
“If you’re going to rehabilitate, you’ve got to give a person a chance,” said one caller who identified himself as an ex-felon.MORE NEWS: Del Paso Boulevard Bike Party Hopes To Make Area Safer For Bicyclists
Another mother with a child incarcerated told the call: “Credit earnings are a positive way for inmates to rehabilitate and use the services that are provided for them.”