By John Hemmerling
]The upcoming election for Sheriff in 2022 is of vital importance to public safety in San Diego County. As the Chief Criminal Prosecutor in the City of San Diego, I have witnessed a steady rise in crime, while politicians and bureaucrats at the State level hold hands with violent criminals. The latest outrage is the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR)’s plan for the early release of violent criminals. On April 13, 2022, I submitted the following statement to CDCR, opposing this plan:
I am John Hemmerling, the Assistant City Attorney and Chief Criminal Prosecutor at the city of San Diego, in charge of the Criminal and Community Justice Division. I am contacting you as a concerned citizen of San Diego County. I strongly oppose the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR)’s plan for the early release of criminals.
Under the proposed regulations, CDCR seeks to reduce sentences already imposed by increasing credits awarded on those sentences. Violent offenders could have their conduct credit rate increased from 20% to 33%. “Non-violent second strikers” could see an increase from 50% to 66%. For example, on a 10-year sentence an individual could be released after having served three years and four months if the proposed regulations are adopted. Note that offenses characterized by CDCR as non-violent include offenders who were convicted of human trafficking and domestic violence, and those who have dangerous criminal histories of armed robbery and attempted murder. This means the victim of a violent crime who thought they were safe from an attacker for at least 20 years, for example, will now be looking over their shoulder in 10 years!
CDCR’s proposed changes are retroactive, meaning many felons will be eligible for release immediately. Why make these changes now, when crime is on the rise in our communities? Why are we continually giving criminals avenues to continue terrorizing our neighborhoods? Why are we advocating more for criminals than victims?
We already afford those who have made a mistake in truly nonviolent offenses opportunities for rehabilitation and integration. Perhaps that should be the focus, and maybe even enhanced, for the benefit of society. However, violent criminals, including many considered “non-violent” under CDCR’s narrow definition (including offenders who were convicted of human trafficking and domestic violence, and those who have dangerous criminal histories of armed robbery and attempted murder), only leave prison more violent – why would we let them out early?
The social justice agenda is overtaking common sense criminal justice. These early releases of criminals further threaten the safety of our communities and inflict additional suffering on the victims of crime.
Extending additional credits to inmates with serious and violent criminal histories is NOT in the interest of justice or the public’s safety. Opening the jailhouse doors years earlier than the sentence imposed by the judge who heard all the evidence and heard the victim’s pain, undermines our entire criminal justice system! That sentence should stand and not be altered after the fact beyond the credits already allowed under California law.
Public safety is the number one job of government. Those of us entrusted with protecting the community must put victims first, not criminals!
John Hemmerling is the San Diego City Attorney’s Chief Criminal Prosecutor; he is a retired Marine Corps Reserve Colonel; a decorated Gulf and Iraq War veteran; and a former San Diego Police Officer. He is endorsed by the California GOP and Republican Party of San Diego County for Sheriff. To support John, go to https://www.