Friday, December 11, 2020

LA's New DA George Gascón's default policy : DA will not attend parole hearings & will support in writing the grant of parole when the minimum Eligible date has been reached.

George Gascón, A former beat cop, Assistant Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and elected District Attorney, George Gascon's 40-year career in law enforcemnts has taken him from the streets of LA to the highest ranks of Law Enforcement and the Courtroom.

In his inauguration speech, Gascón said his time as a hard-charging LAPD cop in the 1980s and '90s helped shape his transformation into an advocate for wide-ranging criminal justice reforms. Gascon announced a sweeping range of reforms when he was sworn-in Monday, including no longer seeking the death penalty and not using gang enhancements for sentencing. 

Supporters of Gascon, say he is correct to try to reduce mass incarceration in California and instead seek more rehabilitative solutions in addition to mental-health treatment for offenders.


More specifically information (below) to help the incarcerated population; it will be at their Parole Suitability Hearing...... Continue reading the excerpts below.


 LA DA recognizes that parole is an effective process to reduce recidivism, ensure public safety, and assist people in successfully rejoining society. The CDCR’s own statistics show that people paroled from life terms have a recidivism rate of less than four percent.

LA DA states: we are not experts on rehabilitation. While we have information about the crime of conviction, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) already has this information.

Further, as the crime of conviction is of limited value in considering parole suitability years or decades later, (see In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1181; In re Shaputis (2008) 44 Cal. 4th 1241, 1255), the value of a prosecutor’s input in parole hearings is also limited. Finally, pursuant to Penal Code section 3041, there is a presumption that people shall be released on parole upon reaching the Minimum Eligible Parole Date (MEPD), their Youth Parole Eligible Date, (YEPD), or their Elderly Parole Date (EPD).

Currently, sentences are being served that are much longer than the already lengthy mandatory minimum sentences imposed. Such sentences are constitutionally excessive. (See In re Palmer (2019) 33 Cal.App.5th 1199.)

This LA’s Office’s default policy is that we will not attend parole hearings and will support in writing the grant of parole for a person who has already served their mandatory minimum period of incarceration, defined as their MEPD, YEPD or EPD.

However, if the CDCR has determined in their Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA) that a person represents a “HIGH” risk rating for recidivism, the DDA may, in their letter, take a neutral position on the grant of parole.


This SEA OF CHANGE is beyond our wildest hopes and dreams as Criminal Defense Attorneys. This is amazing! As a parole specialist, the fact that LA will now be supporting, instead of opposing, the majority of inmates (at parole hearings) is AMAZING.  

NOTE:  For someone who meets the specified criteria (over 15 years incarcerated, age, covid risks, etc) they can make a  direct  request for 1170(d) resentencing at the District Attorney's office. 

As a reminder:

In June 2018, the Legislature passed and Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill(AB) 1812,
which amended Penal Code § 1170(d)(1). The new law took effect immediately. 

Penal Code § 1170(d)(1) authorizes a court  to recall a sentence and resentence a person to a lesser sentence in two circumstances: (1) on the court’s own motion within 120 days after sentencing,  or (2) at any time upon a recommendation from the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) or  the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) (or, for people in county jails, are commendation from the county correctional  administrator). The  CDCR’s  current  regulations about §1170(d)(1)  sentence  recall recommendations are in the California Code of Regulations, Title 15, §§3076-3076.2.  In  the  past,  the  CDCR  rarely  used  its  authority  to recommend sentence recalls. Now, they should because AB 1812 grants additional funds to the CDCR to investigate potential cases to refer for recall of sentence.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

10/27/20 In re TERRELL CURRY Superior Court (LA): Board can not use "plausible discrepancies" against Inmate version to deny parole, among other factors discussed.

 This October 27, 2020 Superior court case is great for specific factors  that come up all the time at a parole hearing. Does the inmate "lie" to agree with "the record" or provide his story that is inconsistent with the record? DOes a CDC-128 counseling chrono provide "some evidence" of dangerousness to be denied parole?  Read below and see what the LA Superior Court thinks.

A big "Shout Out" to Michael J. Brennan, Esq. and Heidi L. Rummel, Esq., of the Post Conviction Justice Project at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law who represented the Petitioner Terrell Curry.

We have pulled out a few paragraphs (here)  from the decision that explains that an inmate (among other factors) does not have to agree with “the record” if his version is ….as the court states:

    Given that Petitioner's version is not "physically impossible" and "do[es] not strain credulity," and that there is every indication that he has accepted full responsibility for his crime and the harm that he placed everyone in that night, the Board is not permitted to use these plausible discrepancies against him to deny parole. (In re Palermo, supra, 171 Cal.App.4th at p. 1112.)

The court goes on to explain that even a small Rule Violation (RVR)  (aka CDC-128) does not provide “some evidence” of unsuitability  if the inmate has a long history of good conduct.

……when an inmate has a track record of positive rehabilitation and generally has few rules violations, a non-violent counseling chrono "does not provide any evidence indicating a rational nexus between the misconduct and the Board's conclusion that [the inmate] poses a current danger to society." (In re Perez, (2016) 7 Cal.App.5th 65, 96.)

Below is an excerpt of the Memorandum of Decision by the Los Angeles Superior Court granting the writ of habeas corpus. Although it can not be cited, it contains good case Citation that can be used for arguments and to "make a record" during a BPH Parole Hearing.


October 27,2020
Honorable: WILLIAM C. RYAN
(Underlying Criminal Case No. BA214317-02)
In re TERRELL CURRY, Petitioner on Habeas Corpus


Petitioner is serving an indeterminate life sentence following his conviction for two counts of attempted murder of a police officer, two counts of assault on a police officer with a firearm and one count of assault with a firearm. He is currently serving his sentence at the California Correction Institution, located in Tehachapi, California.

On March l3, 2018, the Board of Parole Hearings (2018 Panel or the Board) convened an initial youth offender parole suitability hearing where it found Petitioner unsuitable for parole based on his credibility regarding the offense. (Hearing Transcript, dated Mar. 13, 2018, attached to petn. as Exh. E.) The 2018 Panel also questioned if Petitioner's low comprehensive risk assessment rating would have remained low if he had explained his version of events to the psychologist the way he explained it to the 2018 Panel. On April 10, 2019, Petitioner filed a writ of habeas corpus contending "there is no evidence that [Petitioner] poses a current danger to society." (Petn. at p. 3.) This court dismissed the petition as moot because Petitioner's next Board hearing was scheduled for August 22,2019.

On August 22, 2019, the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) convened a first subsequent parole consideration hearing where it found Petitioner unsuitable for parole based on the commitment offense, petitioner's violent criminal history, a CDC 128-A Counseling Chrono (Counseling Chrono) he received one month before the current hearing, and lack of credibility and minimization. The Board issued a 3-year denial. (Hearing Transcript (HT) dated Apr. 28, 2020, at pp.81-89.)

April 28, 2020, Petitioner filed the instant writ of habeas corpus contending that the Board improperly relied on the counseling chrono to deny him parole because there is no nexus between the chrono and his current dangerousness, and that the Board may not deny parole if Petitioner's version of events is "not physically impossible" and does "not strain credulity such that ,the [inmate's version] is delusional, dishonest, or irrational." (Petn. at p. 21. [brackets in original]; quoting In re Palermo (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1096, 1110-1112.)

On June 10, 2020, the undersigned issued an Order to Show Cause, finding Petitioner made a prima facie showing that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 4.551(c)(1).) The court asked the parties to specifically address the Court of Appeal's opinions in In re Palermo (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 1096 and In re Perez (2016) 7 Cal.App.5th 65, and how they relate to Petitioner's recent institutional misconduct and his differing version of the commitment offense.

On August 19, 2020, Respondent filed a Return asserting that there is "some evidence" to support the Board's decision that Petitioner is 'unsuitable for parole due to his recent institutional misconduct, his lack of credibility, and his continued minimization of the commitment offense. (Return at pp. 3-6.)

On September 18, 2020, Petitioner filed a Traverse. Petitioner asserts that there is no "rational nexus" between the "minor counseling chrono" he recently received and the commitment offense as explained by the Board and therefore it cannot support a finding of unsuitability. (Traverse at pp. 1- 4.) He also contends that the Board's denial of parole based on his plausible version of the commitment offense is improper and is a violation of due process. (Id. at pp. 4-6.)

The court finds an, evidentiary hearing is unnecessary because determining whether Petitioner is entitled to relief does not depend on the resolution of an issue of fact. (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 4.551(f).)


Having independently reviewed the record, and giving deference to the broad discretion of the Board in parole matter, the court finds that the record does not contain "some evidence" to support the Board's determination that Petitioner is unsuitable for release on parole.

Given that Petitioner's version is not "physically impossible" and "do[es] not strain credulity," and that there is every indication that he has accepted full responsibility for his crime and the harm that he placed everyone in that night, the Board is not permitted to use these plausible discrepancies against him to deny parole. (In re Palermo, supra, 171 Cal.App.4th at p. 1112.) Accordingly, the court finds the record contains no evidence supporting a finding that there is a nexus between Petitioner's version of the commitment offense and his current dangerousness.


The Board's minimization finding is not supported by any evidence. There is every indication in the record that Petitioner understands the danger the community and the deputies were put in that night and has worked for over 15 years to educate himself and program in an effort to rehabilitate. (RT at p. 82.) The Board erred in this regard.

Petitioner's institutional misconduct, even the minor misconduct, indicates that Petitioner is either unable or unwilling to conform to the requirements of the law and may constitute some evidence that Petitioner is a current danger to public safety and therefore unsuitable for parole. (See In re Reed, supra, 171 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1084-1085; In re Montgomery (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 149, 164.) However, when an inmate has a track record of positive rehabilitation and generally has few rules violations, a non-violent counseling chrono "does not provide any evidence indicating a rational nexus between the misconduct and the Board's conclusion that [the inmate] poses a current danger to society." (In re Perez, (2016) 7 Cal.App.5th 65, 96.)


The Board ultimately concluded, however, that the positives were outweighed by circumstances not supportive of his suitability for parole. This court is not entitled to reweigh the evidence before the Board; rather, it is tasked with determining whether the record contains some evidence in support of the Board's conclusion. (In re Rosenkrantz, supra, 29 Cal.4th at pp. 656, 665-677.) As discussed ante, the court finds the record does not contain evidence to support the Board's conclusion, and that there is no rational nexus between the evidence in the record and the Board's determination of Petitioner's current dangerousness.


For all the foregoing reasons, the petition for writ of habeas corpus is GRANTED. The Board of Parole Hearings is ordered to conduct a new parole hearing within 60 days of finality of this order consistent with applicable law and this decision.


Friday, October 30, 2020

CDCR’s 4-phase Roadmap to Reopening , to be disclosed later this year

 In response to the pandemic caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and out of an abundance of caution, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Correctional Health Care Services  (CCHCS)  have  been  taking  necessary  precautions  to  reduce  risk  of  exposure  to  both  inmates and staff and to mitigate morbidity and mortality related to the disease.

The  purpose  of  this  BLOG is  to  provide  updated    information   since  March 20, 2020, (closing of CDCR visits) and to update some initial activities associated with beginning a  four-phased approach (4 Phase)  to   reopening   operations   within   CDCR   that   is   consistent   with   he   Governor’s Roadmap to Reopening California.  

The Roadmap lays out 4 phases of opening, Phase 1, the most restrictive - basically, noting going on. Various activities are made available and restrictions lifted in the remaining 3 phases, until Phase 4, promises “Return to ‘new’ normal program for all staff and the population.” No indications what the ‘new’ normal will be.

Details of Phase 2 Operations within CDCR/CCHCS are available in the Roadmap to Reopening Plan, which will be distributed later this year. In general, operations during Phase 2 are still restricted to include, but not be limited to, modified reception  center  intake  to  allow  adequate  social  distancing  and  separation  of  populations, transfer to camps and essential health care related transfers and encounters. Additional details for screening, housing, testing and basic strategies to reduce spread of COVID-19 infections are

As of October 2020, the official acceptance of CDCR’s Roadmap to Reopening still has not yet been publicly released, but conditions will be laid out therein, will be, those governing quotas for reopening of the prisons. Each prisons will be similar to the different counties we have experienced in the State of California, with different opening rules, (based on COVID19 cases or lack thereof). Reopening with CDCR (prisons) meaning the reinstatement of visiting, programs and other things that pass for ‘normal’ inside.

Of prime interest is the reopening of visiting, which the Roadmap provides can be expected in Phase 2, with very restrictive guidelines will reopen with  one visitor per inmate for an hour visit once a month, with staggered visiting schedule, mandatory masks, tables/chairs 6 feet apart and, reportedly, no personal contact (read hugs, kisses). This phase also may include the entrance of some outside vendors, non-essential contracts—read possibly some programs.

Phase 3 could see an expansion of visiting, 2 visitors per prisoner, twice a month, remaining restrictions apply. This would also include the re-opening of family visits, for one family visit per week per unit. Other restrictions regarding yard access, day room access and workers would be eased as well.
The key to the Roadmap is that each prison’s reopening will be decided by the local administration, in consultation with Sacramento and subject to guidelines as to where that institution is in the CoVid situation. Again similar to guidelines we encountered throughout 2020 in the State of CA and its different counties.

For example:  (The Roadmad has not yet been published and the example is subject to change)

Phase 2 calls for a ‘contained’ CoVid outbreak, which includes no new CoVid cases (inmate or staff) in a “rolling 14-day cumulative case rate.”

To move from Phase 2 to Phase 3 will require no new cases in a 60-day period and no current positive inmates.

Phase 3 to Phase 4, the establishment of the ‘new normal,’ calls for no new or positive cases for 90 days, but the possible continuation of precautionary measures like face masks and extra cleanings.

As of now, the end of October, no prison yet qualifies for the move from Phase 1 to Phase 2.  

A big Thank You to the CDCR department’s website for some transparency of the information along with Vanessa from Life Support Alliance (a.k.a. LSA) who continues to be a wealth of information for the inmate Population and their Loved ones!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

On 9/15/20, AB 3234 (Elderly Parole Hearing) with lower requirement (50/20) was presented to the Gov. for signature

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND of Elderly Parole Hearing Bills:

Summary of the OLD Elderly Parole Hearing (50/15) Senate Bill that did NOT pass a few years ago, was SB224.

The original draft of Senate Bill [Sen. Carol Liu (Democrat), author of Senate Bill 224 (SB224)] required the Board of Parole Hearings  (BPH) to conduct a ELDERLY PAROLE HEARING for offenders sentence to State prison who have reached 50 years of age and have been incarcerated 15 years or more. SB 224 was withdrawn from consideration because it was felt that Bills which required a 2/3 majority vote on the legislative floor, could not be met.

NOTE: This would have been an expansion from the existing BPH regulation (from 3-Judge Panel) that was established in October 2014 to allow 60 yr. old inmates who have been incarcerated 25 years (60/25) or more to go to an Elderly Parole Hearing.

Summary of the NEW Elderly Parole Hearing (50/20) - AB3234, being signed by Gov.

Abstract & Author: Philip Y. Ting: California Assembly member Democrat District 19

Existing law establishes the Elderly Parole Program for the purpose of reviewing the parole suitability of inmates who are 60 years of age or older and who have served a minimum of 25 years of continuous incarceration on their sentence. This bill would modify the minimum age limitation for that program to 50 years of age and instead require the inmate to have served a minimum of 20 years of continuous incarceration in order to be eligible for that program.

On 9/15/20,  California State Legislature Enrolled and presented AB3234, the new  (Elderly Parole Hearing Bill) to the Governor at 3 p.m. for his signature of Approval.

Since AB 3234 has passed and from all indications will be signed by the Gov, elderly parole goes from the current 60 yrs old and at least 25 yrs on incarceration (60/25 requirement) to 50/20 requirement.   What a WIN!!!

Although the Bill specifically excludes 3Xers, as did the previous bill that codified elderly parole.  It appears according the Vanessa (LSA guru and founder) --> that BPH's legal staff stated [in reference to 3Xers and elderly: ]

   “We would continue to follow the three judge panel (3JP) order criteria for those inmates who are excluded from elderly parole under AB3234 for as long as the three judge panel order remains intact. This will require us [BPH] to set up a double track process for those eligible under the Penal Code and those under the three judge panel order.”  

So for now, and as long as the 3JP is still around, 3’Xers will continue to be included in elderly parole considerations.  
The BIG QUESTION remains: Will BPH continue the 3’Xers under the current 60/25 requirement or will BPH apply the new 50/20 requirement to the 3X'er - STAY TUNE....

Keep in mind that the whole Intent under 3JP was to reduce the population. Thus, excluding an entire section of 3X'er elderly inmates (that are not 50/20 candidates) would conflict with the goal to reduce the population.  We speculate that BPH will apply the 50/20 elderly age requirement across the Board to all those inmates.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

CLEMENCY: Commutation, Compassionate or Medical release; HOW TO GET THE PROPER ATTENTION TO GET OUT!

To be considered in the plans, criteria and how to tap into the early releases actually happening in the wake of CoVid, it’s important to make yourself seen. As those criteria keep changing—almost daily, how do you bring yourself to the attention of those making these decisions? Get in the right "bucket".

 COMMUTATION:  People who have been convicted of a crime and are currently serving their sentence in California may apply for a commutation (reduction of sentence).  Applicants will be notified when the Governor takes action on a commutation application.  NOTE: If you submitted a commutation application to a prior governor and did not receive notice of a commutation grant, your application is deemed closed. You can re-submit a new application with THIS Governor Newsom. NOTE you can only file this Application - once every 3-year. If you want to retain an experienced law firm please contact the LAW OFFICE OF DIANE T. LETARTE (619-233-3688) or view our website RenegadeAttorney.Com

COMPASSIONATE RELEASE:  or recall of sentence, is available to California inmates who are terminally ill and have six month or less to live. Medical Parole is available to inmates who are incapacitated or in a vegetative state and requires 24-hour skilled nursing care.

MEDICAL RELEASE:  A medical parole hearing is a hearing to determine if an inmate who is permanently medically incapacitated should be placed in a licensed health care facility in the community. Eligible inmates are referred to the Board for an expanded medical parole hearing.

 This BLOG addresses more the COMMUTATION ASPECT: In deciding whether to grant a commutation, the Governor’s Office will carefully review each commutation application and consider:

  • the impact of a commutation on the community, including whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interests of justice;
  • the age and circumstances of the offense and the sentence imposed, and the age of the applicant at the time;
  • the applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, including whether the applicant has made use of available rehabilitative programs and has identified and addressed treatment needs;
  • the applicant’s need for a commutation; and
  • the applicant’s plans upon release from custody.

The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH), a division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, investigates commutation applications. The investigation will include a review of the applicant’s criminal history records, court and police records, and records and information about the applicant’s period of incarceration from the applicant’s C-File and other sources.

Information provided on the commutation application can be used by CDCR’s statistical and research division to identify those individuals who qualify for consideration under release criteria, such as those with less than 5 years to serve, over the age of 65, with CoVid-sensitive medical needs, low CRA (or CSRA) scores, and more. As CDCR and the Governor look at various cohorts to find individuals within those groups who seem likely candidates for early release, those data points can place you in the ‘bucket’ of those being considered. Best advice from those in the know in Sacramento—put in a commutation petition, knowing it will be for reasons other than the Governor’s scrutiny for commutation. 

For decades commutations were a long shot, until about mid-way through former Gov. Edmund G. Brown’s term, when Brown began to use the commutation power to right some of the wrongs of sentencing. Current Gov. Gavin Newsom has continued that path, to some degree, and now, under the pressure of CoVid19 and overcrowding, commutation applications can provide a new avenue to at least consideration for release.

The Petition can be found on the Governor’s website, in the law library, probably from CDCR's counselors; present the factors of your situation that make you vulnerable to CoVid complications.

For Example: Are you over 65? Underlying medical conditions that make you ripe for CoVid complications (high blood pressure, COPED, diabetes, cancer, other ailments)? What’s your disciplinary history? What’s your Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA) rating (Low)? How long have you served? Are you up for consideration SB1437 (Felony Murder resentencing) per CA Penal Code 1170 (d) but the court hasn’t acted on your case yet? If you’re a Determinate Sentence inmate (DSL), do you have less than 12 months to serve? If you’re a Lifer with a 3 year denial and an Administrative Review (AR) already approved but the hearing date not yet arrived, point that out in your application. Are you seeking compassionate release, but the process hasn’t been completed? Have you received a terminal diagnosis, and been given a 12-month life expectancy from medical? Are you eligible to seek medical parole consideration?

All of these are factors that might put you in the spotlight for early release consideration. Make CDCR aware of them—sure, they can eventually work their way down to you, but cut to the chase, give them the info up front. No guarantee, but in these uncertain times, it pays to try everything.

----- Thank you to Vanessa at LSA for the Insight into some of the COMMUTATION information and the new Governor's factors along with the Medical overlay of  COVID19  in the mix.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The "new normal" at the Law Office of Diane T. Letarte

Message from Attorney Diane T. Letarte:

We have received many phone calls and an uptake in legal US mail from all 35 State Prisons' inmates.

In order to keep up with the "New Normal" given the constraints, our Legal Team adapted our new model of parole hearing preparation to respond to the limitations on in-person legal visiting due to the constraints of COVID-19.

The new Model includes advocating for private attorney-client phone calls, Longer time limits on the prison phone calls, we  expanded our legal staff hours of operations (behind the scene assistance) to reach more clients and provide more resources and information to people inside. We are also  on-boarding attorneys “of counsel” to assist us provide more parole consultation resources via personnel written communication feedback directly from the attorney, on most of the written responses. 

The client prison communication now includes reviewing their Parole Packets organization as well as reviewing their Relapse Prevention Plan and their Apology letters to the victim(s). We worked with the families of the incarcerated  in order to supplement the Parole Packet, getting support letters. We have increase our in-office equipment to assist with scanning and uploading our clients' Parole Packet (PP) directly to the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) to ensure the electronic delivery of the PP. This eliminates the need for the inmate to "bring" any copies to his parole hearing since the Commissioners are NOT in the room in the prison but actually Remotely located, with only an electronic copy of the inmates' Central file(s) and the electronic Parole Packet provided by our law office.

We have allowed more of an "open-door policy" for family members to contact our law office via telephone or emails to get updates on their loved ones and the latest CDCR information, that we have available. Our email monitoring as been increased to include Saturday and on occasion Sunday responses, depending on the urgency of the communication.

Our staff continues their work providing direct services such as accepting collect calls - sometimes beyond our 5pm office hours. In addition we are providing additional written resources to our clients on the inside, and most importantly, bringing Lifers (and long Term Offenders) safely home from prison, as soon as possible. 

We do not do any Civil Litigation regarding COVID19 medical Issues. We focus on Parole Suitability Hearings (via Audio/Video) at this time. We DO appreciate your cooperation and patience while we try hard to respond to all the surplus incoming Legal mail from the prisons.  

Attorney Diane T. Letarte, MBA, LLM and
M.S. Forensic Psychology

Former President - NC Lawyers Club
Judge Pro Tem - Superior Court of California
1080 Park Blvd., Suite 1008
San Diego, CA 92101

888-400-6082  E-fax and

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

COVID19 Prison update & Statistics - San Quentin a HOTSPOT

This is a Courtesy update of the COVID19 statistics as of 6/30/3030 in California Prisons from Vanessa at LSA (Lifer Support Alliance).
 As the numbers continue to rise San Quentin State Prison (SQ) today claimed the dubious distinction of having the most CoVid positive inmates, not only overall, but at one time.  The total positive individuals within the California system today numbers 2,585.
We received the LATEST update from CDCR and More information on CDCR’s efforts and the expedited release overview can be found on
CDCR is taking further action to fight the outbreak of COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison. These actions include establishing a unified command center at the prison to coordinate custody and medical response to COVID-19 cases. The team is composed of medical, custody, emergency management and infectious disease experts from CDCR, California Correctional Health Care Services, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, Emergency Medical Services Authority, California Department of Public Health, and Division of Occupational Safety and Health. This expands upon San Quentin’s local Incident Command Post, which has been activated since June 11 to coordinate custody and medical response to the increase in cases at the institution.
Additionally, the prison is currently installing six tents that will be used as alternative care stations to treat COVID-19 inmate patients on the grounds, and open up space in certain areas of the prison to allow for increased physical distancing, quarantine, and isolation. More information will be provided once the tents are fully installed. Also, under Secretary Diaz’s authority, CDCR will be expediting the release to parole or probation supervision of qualifying inmates with 180 days or less left on their sentence. These inmates will undergo a risk assessment, a medical screening and have a parole plan in place. Eligible inmates with high-risk medical conditions will be also considered for the expedited release.

By CA prison acronym: SQ 1,106; CIM 509; CVSP 291; CCC 214; COR 125; CCI 109; CRC 99; ASP 41; ISP 31; WSP 24; CEN 12; CIW 6; NKSP 5; HDSP 4 (apologies for omitting HD yesterday, there has been no change in the number since yesterday); SAC 3; SVSP 3; and single cases at CAL, SOL, and in a new entry, RJD.
PBSP (Pelican Bay State Prison) showed up with a single case early yesterday and then disappeared, only to do the same today, that is reportedly a false positive that seems to be stuck in the system.
As bad as the virus has been in various locations, in something of a rotating circle, clearly SQ has been the most spectacularly impacted.  Since the beginning of the outbreak at SQ has tallied a total of 1,113 positive cases, and with a population (as of May 30) of 3,626—nearly a third of those at SQ have tested positive.  And most of those cases are currently positive.
CVSP was also hard-hit with a total of 1,012 positive cases and 2 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, which accounts for 45% of their population 2,261, but those cases were more spread out over a few weeks of time.  CIM, the first of the big outbreaks, has racked up 896 total positive cases, and the highest death rate, 16 fatalities at CIM alone, but again, those positive cases grew at a slower rate than at SQ and amounted to 30% of that prison’s population.
ASP also had a moment in the top spot, and totaled 938 over time, as well as 9 deaths, accounting for 23% of their population.  CIW, clearly on the downslope, had 11% of the population, or 164 cases, 1 death reported. 
CCC and COR, both looking to be on the rise, are currently at 5% and 4% of the population respectively.  Overall, close to 5,000 California prisoners, 4,939, have tested positive since the first case at LAC, what seems a lifetime ago.

A great THANK YOU to Vanessa who is assitng to pass "accurate information " and not rumors from CDCR sources (and website)  to the outside community.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

COVID-19 California Prison inmates affected & recovered

The following COVID-19 Prison update is a Courtesy of  Vanessa, from 

 If you prefer to look at CDCR's website of 

As expected of a closed-in Prison Population with limited "social distancing", the Numbers are creeping up, both in the number positive cases and in the number of cases ‘resolved’ or recovered from the virus.  
This BLOG is specific to California prison and the acronym for the specific prison (as well as location) can be viewed at CDCR link here. 
Keep in mind that the numbers changes daily but as of the past week [before Memorial Weekend] -->The breakdown is as follows:
The Total positive cases in the inmate population today stands at 714, up some 40 from yesterday.  By individual prison: CIM 460 (8+); CIW 116 (6+); CVSP 52 (12+); ASP 49 (17+); LAC 32 (no change); CMC 4 (3-) and CEN 1 (1-).  No, the numbers don’t exactly match, but there are also changes in the number of cases ‘resolved’ cases.  The most concerning number, that of deaths related to CoVid 19, remains at 6, all from CIM (Chino)
CDCR has released no additional information today—again, leading into a long weekend, not unexpected or surprising.  We will of course keep checking throughout the weekend and posting daily. 
Please continue to send Vanessa, from Life Support Alliance
information on mask wearing and other details inside, LSA follows up on each and just the fact that LSA keeps bombarding CDCR with questions and particulars keeps them on their toes—someone is watching.  And thanks to those who let LSA know their posts are helpful to them and their loved ones, in letting them know what’s going on.  That’s LSA's objective, to provide information.
LSA continues the battle with CDCR, to get everyone to wear masks—and that means prisoners as well as staff members.
A REMINDER to family member,  unless your loved one has added you to his/her Medical release form, CDCR Form 7385, CDCR cannot, by law, give you ANY information about their medical condition. 
If you aren’t sure whether you’re on that Health disclosure form, send this form (see link below) in to those you care about, have them sign it and send to their counselor to put in their file.  In fact, send in 2 forms, send one to the counselor and send one back to you.
Here’s a link to the form:
Everyone stay safe, enjoy the weekend as much as you can.


Friday, April 10, 2020

CDCR COVID-19 OMBUDSMEN Contacts and Low Level release

The Prison Law Office (Berkeley) along with Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld (San Francisco), who champion the Brown v. Plata case and Coleman v. Brown cases filed an  EMERGENCY MOTION to release elderly and sick inmate from the overcrowded prison, approximately 2 weeks ago.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration addressed a panel of federal judges and stated that the state is taking “extraordinary and unprecedented protective measures” to slow the spread of the virus and protect those who live and work within California’s 35 prisons, including an accelerated parole policy — affecting inmates due to be released over the next 60 days.  This does not include lifers and does not accelerate the parole process for lifers.

Last week, the 3-panel Federal Judges rejected a move the Prison Law Office and Rosen, Bein, Galvan & Grunfeld, [Plata & Coleman] attorneys for the class of inmates covered by Coleman and Plata, to force CDCR to release large numbers of inmates due to the CoVid-19 issue.  The judges, however, invited the plaintiffs to refile in a different manner, and the attorneys indicated they would do so. 

On a good note--> State lawyers reported CDCR intends to accelerate parole dates for 3,500 inmates serving terms for nonviolent crimes and already due to be released within 60 days and will now be released “within the next several weeks.”

The state has also stopped transfer of county jail inmates into the state population, which will reportedly keep about 3,000 additional people out of the state prison system. CDCR is also moving 480 to 530 inmates out of dorms, where prisoners are bunked as close as two feet apart with shared sinks and showers, to relocate them to other facilities, as yet unspecified.

In addition, Court documents show CDCR began testing March 7 and began testing incoming staff or temperatures this week.  In the first 3 days of those checks began, 170 workers had temperatures and were turned away.

Fast forwarding to this week : 37 positive inmate tests,  CIM seems to be the hot spot, both for inmates and for guards. 

The totals infection counts [below], by prison, as of the writing of this BLOG:

INMATES: CIM, 23; LAC, 12; CIW, 1; NKSP, 1; SATF, 1.

STAFF: CCI, 1; CHCF, 2; CIM, 19; CIW, 2; LAC, 9; SAC, 5; CAL, 2; CENT, 2; CCWF, 1; FSP, 4; NKSP, 1; MCSP, 1; SQ, 5; SVSP, 1; SATF, 2; VSP, 1 AND WASCO, 4

CLICK this CDCR-POPULATION COVID-19 TRACKING Link for up to date count:

For those of you continuing to email (and call) asking for help in getting your individual out—LSA has compiled and made available on their website a resource guide—so that each family can address the needs and problems at each prison.  Go to, [Resources page, the CoVid 19 & CDCR Resources]

For a shortcut we have included the OMBUDSMEN contact names and phone numbers for you to call the appropriate Institution for your loved one. (Courtesy of LSA)


Sara L. Smith
Chief Ombudsman, (916) 324-5458
Institutions covered:
Central California Women’s Facility
California Institution for Women (CIW)
Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF)
California Rehabilitation Center (CRC)
California Institution for Men (CIM)

Xina Bolden
Ombudsman, (916) 324-6123
Institutions covered:
California State Prison, Corcoran (COR)
Deuel Vocational Facility (DVI)
California Men’s Colony (CMC)
Centinela State Prison (CEN)
Calipatria State Prison (CAL)
California State Prison, Solano (SOL)

Larry Cupler
Ombudsman, (916) 324-3265
Institutions covered:
Folsom State Prison (FSP)
High Desert State Prison (HDSP)
California Correctional Center (CCC)
California City Correctional Facility
CSP Los Angeles County (LAC)
Avenal State Prison (ASP)

Scott Jacobs
Ombudsman, (916) 323-2994
Institutions covered:
California Correctional Institution (CCI)
Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP)
North Kern State Prison (NKSP)
Ironwood State Prison (ISP)
Chuckawalla Valley State Prison
Sierra Conservation Center (SCC)
Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP)

Tami Falconer
Ombudsman, (916) 324-5448
Institutions covered:
Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP)
Correctional Training Facility (CTF)
California Substance Abuse Treatment
Facility and State Prison at Corcoran
California Medical Facility (CMF)
San Quentin State Prison (SQ)
Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP)

Eric Joe

Ombudsman, (916) 324-1000
Institutions covered:
California Health Care Facility (CHCF)
California State Prison, Sacramento
Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP)
Valley State Prison (VSP)
Richard J Donovan Correctional Facility
Wasco State Prison (WSP)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

BPH Parole Hearing Postponed thru 4/3 and then VIDEO/AUDIO

A new (3/25/2020) Executive Order (EO) N-36-20 from the Executive Department of the State Of California, delineated the new way of doing business (due to COVID-19) and the impact to the parole suitability hearings.

In order to enforce the Social Distancing [due to COVID-19] the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) is coordinating to execute Parole Hearings via VIDEO/AUDIO to avoid the need to access the prison. In our Opinion, this will run afoul of the right to appear at your parole Hearing. BPH/CDCR has decided this and will be enforcing it via the Executive Order N-36-20 (see link below for the full Order)

Inmates and their attorneys can elect to Postpone (or waive)  their hearing under the provision that it shall be rescheduled for the earliest practical date.

According to the new Executive Order N-36-20 from the Executive Department of the State Of California -The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has infectious disease management plans in place to address communicable disease outbreaks such as influenza, measles, mumps, norovirus, and varicella, and CDCR has taken a series of additional proactive steps to
reduce the risk of introducing and spreading COVID-19 in CDCR facilities.

Following is an EXCERPT of the Executive Order- as it relates to inmates and attorneys:

5. For the next 60 days, and for the term of any extensions, to the extent that
any law or regulation gives any person the right to be present at a parole
hearing, that right is satisfied by the opportunity to appear by
videoconference. Specifically:

a. For inmates who choose to go forward with their parole hearing by
videoconference during the next 60 days, and during the term of
any extensions, the inmate's right to be present and to meet with a
Board of Parole Hearing's panel under Penal Code sections 3041,
subdivision (a) (2),3041.5, subdivision (a) (2), and California Code of
Regulations, title 15, section 2247, is satisfied by appearance
through videoconference.

b. For inmates who choose to go forward with their parole hearing by
videoconference during the next 60 days, and during the term of
any extensions, Penal Code section 3041.7 and California Code of
Regulations, title 15, section 2256, which provide that an inmate has
the right to be represented by an attorney at parole hearings, will
be satisfied by the attorney appearing by videoconference
and by
providing for privileged teleconferencing between the inmate and
attorney immediately before and during the hearing. Such inmates
will also be provided reasonable time and opportunity for privileged
communications by telephone with their retained or appointed
counsel prior to the hearing at no charge to either party.

c. For hearings conducted by videoconference during the next 60
days, and during the term of any extensions, the right of victims,
victims' next of kin, members of the victims' family and victims'
representatives to be present at a parole hearing will be satisfied by
the opportunity to appear by videoconference, teleconference, or
by written or electronically recorded statement, consistent with
California Constitution, Article I, section 28, subdivision (b) (7), Penal
Code section 3043, subdivision (b) (1) and California Code of
Regulations, title 15, section 2029, and as provided in Penal Code
sections 3043.2 and 3043.25.

d. For hearings conducted by videoconference during the next 60
days, and during the term of any extensions, Penal Code section
3041.7 providing that the prosecuting attorney may represent the
interests of the people at the hearing will be satisfied by the
opportunity to appear by videoconference, teleconference, or a
written statement.

The Full BPH Executive Order is posted on the Law Office of Diane Letarte website regarding AUDIO/VIDEO Parole Hearings Orders, as a substitute for an Appearance at the Parole Hearing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

COVID-19 Prison Law Office Motions 3-Judges Panel to release elderly/sick inmates

SUMMARY INTRODUCTION of the Motion that was filed 3/25/2020 in the USDC, Eastern and Northern composed of three  Judges Pursuant to Section 2284, Title 28 United States Code is stated below: The Prison Law Office (Berkeley) along with Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld (San Francisco), who champion the Brown v. Plata case and Coleman v. Brown cases are filing this EMERGENCY MOTION to release elderly and sick inmate from the overcrowded prison.

California today is under a state of emergency due to the spread of the novel corona-virus and COVID-19, the deadly disease it causes. Like the rest of the country and the world, the State is bracing for the potentially catastrophic ravages of this pandemic. The Governor has taken significant steps to flatten the curve of new cases before hospitals are overwhelmed and the death toll skyrockets, as it has elsewhere. The primary components of the Governor’s actions have been to require social distancing to keep Californians at least six feet apart at all times and to prepare hospitals and health care workers for the coming surge in cases.

Those steps have not been meaningfully implemented in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for one simple reason: the system is far too crowded. The prisons house tens of thousands of people in crowded dormitories where they live, sleep, and bathe within feet—sometimes inches—of each other. The prisons also house tens of thousands of the people most vulnerable to death or severe complications from COVID-19: the elderly and people with serious underlying medical conditions. These conditions pose an unacceptable risk of harm for people who live and work in CDCR as well as to the broader public: prison walls cannot stop the spread of pandemic disease. According to former CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan, California’s prisons are “a tinderbox of potential infection as you go forward, especially if you are just watching what’s going on around the world.”  Another former corrections chief from Colorado sounded a similar warning: “I don’t think people understand the gravity of what’s going to happen if this runs in a prison.… You’re going to see devastation that’s unbelievable.” 

It has been only 13 years since California prisons were under another state of emergency: the state had crowded its prison system beyond humane limits, with deadly results. On October 4, 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a State of Emergency because “the current severe overcrowding in 29 CDCR prisons has caused substantial risk to the health and safety of … the inmates housed in them ….”   Among other significant harms, the Governor found, overcrowded prisons place people living in them at “increased, substantial risk for transmission of infectious illnesses.”

The State has since significantly reduced its prison population overall due to orders from this Court, but not enough to prevent widespread sickness and death during the pandemic. It has taken no steps towards a targeted release of the most vulnerable populations. The Coleman class, people with serious mental illness, is uniquely vulnerable, both to the virus and to the increased isolation and reduced treatment and activities of CDCR’s pandemic response. The current emergency is the inevitable result of the State’s failure to learn the lessons from the emergency of 2006. The deadly promise of the prior overcrowding crisis will be realized today unless this Court acts swiftly to require the State to safely reduce the population in crowded congregate living spaces to a level that will permit social distancing and protect the medically vulnerable by releasing or relocating patients who are at low risk of criminal conduct but especially high risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.




1. A Targeted Population Reduction Order Would Directly Address the Needs of the Medically Vulnerable Population and Those Living in Congregate Settings and Would Therefore Be Tailored to the Changed Circumstances

2. A Prisoner Release Order Would Be Narrowly Drawn, Would Extend No Further than Necessary, and Would Be the Least Intrusive Means to Correct the Current Constitutional Violations

TO VIEW the FULL Motion Click Law Office of Diane Letarte and then see COVID-19 Motion..



Friday, February 28, 2020

FIRST 2020 LSA SEMINAR - Helping Families of the Incarcerated.

                            ***** QUICK RELEASE  *****  
           DON'T MISS the First LSA  SEMINAR  of 2020

Saturday,   Feb. 29th 2020   8 am-3:30 pm

The first seminar of the year, February 29 in Sacramento.  Once again this year Jennifer Shaffer, Executive Director of the Board of Parole Hearings will be attending, to fill us all in on the latest in parole and answer questions from those in attendance.  Ms. Shaffer's remarks are usually the most anticipated part of the seminar, and she always brings great insight into the board's workings and process.  

Also sharing their knowledge will be attorney Michael Beckman, one of the top parole attorneys in the state and John Dannenberg, former lifer, current contributor to California Lifer Newsletter and the subject of two impactful lifer litigations In RE: Dannenberg I and II.  Micheal will discuss attorney interactions with both clients and the board, while John will share some personal advice and observations aimed at helping your lifers become successful at the board.

LSA  provides lunch and in the afternoon, break into smaller groups to go deeper into several areas of suitability.  And, we'll have a few more paroled lifers in attendance, who can chat with you and share their path to success.  It's a full day, but you'll come away with much to think about and share with your loved one who is heading to the parole board.

And once again, we have a great venue, Capital Christian Center, easy to find, plenty of parking and a very friendly atmosphere.  The easiest way to sign up is to go to LSA website, and on the Events page, you can use a debit or credit card to reserve your seat.
 If you'd rather register with a check or MO, just sent that, along with your information, to the address below -  For either method of registration don't forget to include your email address, for follow ups.

  Capital Christian Center
  9470 Micron Ave. 
  Sacramento, CA. 95827  



Thursday, January 16, 2020

SB1437: UPDATE to GOODEN and LAMOUREUX Cases are going up to the CA SUPREME

QUICK UPDATE on SB1437 since December BLOG post:

We know there were two published cases that opined that SB1437 is Constitutional as stated in our November  BLOG. We also know that both were Published by the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division One: People v. Lamoureux (D075794) and People v. Superior Court  (Gooden/Dominguez) (D75787 and D75790).

As we anticipated from our last month Blog:
 We believed that  People v. Lamoureux  and People v. Superior Court  (Gooden/Dominguez) would be petitioned to the California Supreme Court.

Well.. YES, A petition for review was filed in Gooden on December 19, 2019 and a petition for review in Lamoureux was filed on December 26, 2019 to the California Supreme Court.  I assume Review will be granted by the California Supreme Court on these cases in early 2020. 

Still up to date we believe that the Orange County Superior Courts have, so far, adopted the position that SB 1437 is unconstitutional.  We are now keeping our eyes on case number G057510, People v. Solis pending in the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three. The case is fully briefed, but Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled. As a reminder - Oral argument has NOT been scheduled yet, and probably won't be until early this year  (attorney unavailability noted out to 02/18/20, last checked)


There are many issues in the Trial Courts. The DAs are trying to come up with "new theory" of Murder to keep the inmates incarcerated. Some DA's are trying to bring in (as new evidence) the Parole Suitability Hearing transcripts from CDCR (prisons).

Some Judges are overstepping their Boundary / Jurisdiction (i.e. LA County) by resentencing a 1st degree murder to a 2nd degree murder without an information/indictment nor proving each element of the crime Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. At this point- it is unclear -- If the DA did proceed by way of new information or indictment, would there be a double jeopardy issue?  Unknown
We hope a Notice of Appeal (NOA) will be filed on this injustice.

PRELIMINARY FILINGs of SB1437 [PC 1170.95 resentencing petition] by inmates: BEWARE

The 2d District, Division 1, has issued a published opinion in Vince Lewis, B295998, affirming a summary denial of an 1170.95 petition prior to appointment of counsel.  They hold that at the initial step, prior to appointment of counsel, the trial court may consider the "record of conviction", including the opinion on direct appeal, and summarily deny the petition on that basis alone. It appears that different Public Defenders regions are taking action to try to salvage some of these cases that the Judge may have wrongfully denied the  inmates' Petitions, before s/he had the advantage of having Counsel represent them.

Let's stay tune for the on-going development of the new law and its proper and improper execution at the Trial Court Level