SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - In January 2015, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began a new parole determination process after a federal court ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding. As a result, inmates characterized as “nonviolent second-strikers” (NVSS) became eligible for early parole. In November 2016, Proposition 57 was then passed with the promise that “nonviolent” inmates who “turn their lives around” in prison could also earn early parole under a new “nonviolent parole review” (NVPR).
Qualifying NVSS and NVPR inmates must not currently be serving a sentence for a crime legally categorized as a violent felony and must not be required to register as sex offenders. NVSS inmates must have served (or be within 12 months of serving) only 50 percent of their sentence, while NVPR inmates may be paroled after serving the base term for the principal offense and may earn additional conduct credits.
The Board of Prison Hearings (BPH) determines whether NVSS or NVPR offenders would pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community based on a paper review of prior criminal history, facts of the current commitment offense, behavior in prison, rehabilitation efforts, whether the inmate has any medical condition which might affect the ability to re-offend, and written statements.
Unlike parole hearings - where the prosecution, defense attorney, and victim may appear - there is no public hearing for these BPH administrative reviews. Additionally, no evidence-based risk assessment is conducted prior to consideration of early release to indicate an inmate’s safety risk.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office takes an active role in evaluating NVSS and NVPR cases. For inmates who appear to pose a danger to the public, the office writes opposition letters to BPH with an overview of the inmate’s criminal history and current commitment offense, and an opinion on the public safety risk if an inmate is granted early release. NVPR cases are especially concerning since prosecutors are denied access to records of the inmate’s behavior behind bars, which is critical to rehabilitation, and do not have a right to appeal an early parole decision.
Many of the offenders who are granted early prison release have violent and lengthy criminal histories. District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert feels it is important for the public to be aware of the so-called “nonviolent” offenders being released early from prison into our neighborhoods.
As of February 28, 2018, 320 inmates sentenced from Sacramento County have been granted early prison release. Information about some of these inmates can be found on the Early Prison Releases webpage at www.sacda.org/early-prison-releases. Monthly press releases are issued to provide the public with a sampling of recent noteworthy offenders, including:
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter (DUI), Repeat Drug Offender (Isaac Solis - Case #16FE001617) - In 2005, Solis pled guilty to felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, a strike offense. He also pled to felony charges of driving under the influence causing injury and driving a stolen vehicle. In this case, Solis was driving a stolen pick-up truck while under the influence of methamphetamine. Solis lost control of the truck, struck a curb and crossed the center divide into oncoming traffic, which caused a head-on collision with a vehicle driven by 25-year-old Mattie Wilson. Ms. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene. Solis was sentenced to 11 years, 4 months in state prison for causing Ms. Wilson’s death. Despite the fatal consequence of his past unlawful drug use, and nearly six years in prison during his first incarceration, Solis continued to reoffend. While on parole in 2014, he was convicted of a misdemeanor and felony charge stemming from separate incidents where he attempted to fraudulently cash checks. In his most recent 2016 offense, an officer responded to a report of a suspicious person near a vehicle on the side of a road. The officer contacted the male, identified as Solis. After discovering Solis was on formal probation, a search of his person revealed the following contraband in his jacket pocket: a methamphetamine pipe that contained residue of use, a useable amount (0.74 grams) of methamphetamine, and two rounds of live .45-caliber firearm ammunition. A search of the vehicle yielded a lock-picking kit that the officer described as burglary tools. Solis was convicted of felon in possession of ammunition and received a 4-year prison sentence. Solis’ criminal history also includes prior misdemeanor convictions for drug-related offenses from 2002-2004 as well as a prior check fraud conviction in 2004. The Board of Prison Hearings found this inmate to be a nonviolent offender who does not pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community and granted release on January 30, 2018. Opposition Letter
Threatened to Kill Victim with Knife (Donald Mayberry - Case #16FE021559) – In 2013, Mayberry was convicted of the strike offense making criminal threats and received a sentence of 7 years, 4 months in state prison. In that case, Mayberry tried to steal a car by breaking in and hot-wiring it. The owner of the vehicle heard a noise coming from his driveway and went to confront Mayberry. Mayberry ran off in an attempt to flee. When Mayberry realized he forgot his wallet at the scene, he went back and confronted the victim. Mayberry pulled a knife on the victim and accused the victim of stealing his wallet. He pointed the knife at the victim, telling him he would kill him if he did not return his wallet. In his 2016 commitment offense, Mayberry again tried to hot-wire and steal a car. This time, after gaining entry to the car, he broke open the steering column and cut several wires. He was unsuccessful at stealing the car, but stole an audio cable. When Mayberry was apprehended, he was found to be in possession of the audio cable and 14 shaved keys that could be used for stealing other cars. He was convicted of felony burglary and received a sentence of 44 months in state prison. Mayberry has been convicted of eight felonies and three misdemeanors, including multiple car thefts and his strike offense. He has been sent to prison a total of seven times for a total of 20 years. The Board of Prison Hearings found this inmate to be a nonviolent offender who does not pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community and granted release on January 31, 2018. Opposition Letter
Con Artist Scammed 84-Year-Old Woman Out of Life Savings (Shelvert Lynn Dyer - Case #03F06598) – In 2004, Dyer was convicted of multiple felony charges related to an elaborate two-part scam targeting an elderly woman. In this case, the 84-year-old victim was conned into believing a South African man would give her $10,000 to help him fulfill a requirement that he donate $90,000 of a large insurance settlement he was to receive. He told the victim she first needed to prove her bank would allow her to withdraw money. The victim withdrew $7,000 cash from her bank, ordered cashier's checks and cashed the checks. She gave all of the money to the South African man, who put it in a bandana with what appeared to be additional currency and gave her the bandana supposedly filled with money. She later found the bandana was filled with worthless paper, and she lost all of her money. She reported it to the police, but the scammers were not caught. Four months later, Dyer and his accomplice showed up at the victim's door. They had badges and claimed to be police investigating the scam. Dyer told her she had to transfer all of the remaining money in her account into another account, and she had to go to the bank with them to make the transfer. Before leaving with Dyer, the victim told her housekeeper she was suspicious. The police were called and Dyer was apprehended at the bank. This crime not only robbed the victim of her money twice, it stole her dignity, sense of well-being and ability to trust. The seriousness of these crimes is reflected in the 23 year, 8 month state prison sentence Dyer received. Dyer has perpetrated similar crimes throughout his 35-year criminal history and across the state, including a 1996 strike conviction for first-degree burglary in San Joaquin County. Other felony offenses include possession of a forged seal with intent to defraud, forged bill or note and grand theft. The Board of Prison Hearings granted early release on January 29, 2018. Opposition Letter
This is an update since my community meeting a week ago when many of you in attendance asked me to help the community address the placement of convicted Colorado rapist Christopher Lawyer who was allowed to move to California and take up residence in Carmichael as a parolee under the jurisdiction of the State of California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The short answer -- as was reported to you that night -- this individual remains in County Jail for violating his parole conditions.
The next day after the community meeting District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and I along with Phil Brelje (Sheriff Scott Jones' Chief Deputy Sheriff) met with Scott Kernan, Gov. Brown's CDCR Secretary, to discuss how to protect the community. As explained at the community the night before, as soon as the Sheriff's Department learned about the parolee's presence in Carmichael they investigated and discovered the parolee had violated his conditions of parole, which landed him in jail. As a result of this violation, the Sheriff's Department, District Attorney's Office and CDCR are working together to continue the investigation into Lawyer's parole status and whether there are other violations of his parole. He remains in custody pending this continued investigation.
I understand the concern about how this parolee came to be in California and Secretary Kernan explained the parolee's move here was permitted under an interstate compact and Carmichael was allowed because he has a relative here. The reason no one in the neighborhood was notified about the parolee's presence is that CDCR isn't required to make notifications. He is now on Megan's List, the registry of sex offenders maintained by the California State Department of Justice, but Secretary Kenan could provide no explanation about the delay in doing so.
The Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office both deserve our thanks for their work in keeping this parolee behind bars and keeping the public safe. I have been in regular contact with Secretary Kernan and he has assured me that his department is continuing its investigation regarding the parolee. As soon as I have more information, I will let you know.
Supervisor, Third District
CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - A slain Carmichael/Arcade deputy has been memorialized by Mission Oak Park District. Last weekend, Eastern Oak Park dedicated a “Danny Oliver Plaza,” whose plaque recalls the officer’s tragic end of watch. His widow and daughters joined Sheriff Scott Jones in unveiling the plaza arch.
“As long as there is evil in this world, there must be brave men and women ready to step into the fire,” said Jones. A monument plaque proclaims Oliver as a golden rule adherent. “He treated the people on his calls as he would want his family to be treated,” says the inscription.
The plaza dedication came soon after undocumented immigrant Luis Bracamontes was found guilty of Oliver’s murder and many other charges. Patrolling Auburn Boulevard in October 2014, the deputy and his partner observed a man and woman parked at a motel. Oliver approached their car and was shot in the head. The murder began a manhunt that spread to Placer County. Car-jacking two vehicles and shooting and injuring a car owner, the fugitives sped to Auburn. Near Interstate 80, Bracamontes fired on two Placer police officers. One, Investigator Michael Davis, died from his wounds.
At the time of Oliver’s death, the 47-year-old deputy was assigned to Problem Oriented Policing in the Sheriff’s North Area Division. Addressing his family and 200 park patrons, Supervisor Susan Peters hoped his service would not be forgotten. “A park is where we want to be safe,” she said. “Our protection here, as well as in our homes and places of business, relies on the dedication of those who wear a badge. Everyone who enjoys this park and its special plaza should know that the fun that occurs here - in safety - is not without sacrifice.”
Formerly home to the YMCA, Eastern Oak Park is one of 17 reserves administered by Mission Oaks Recreation and Park District. Its $2 million redevelopment project began last year and includes walking paths, restrooms, pickleball courts, a children’s playground and an off-leash dog park.
The park is located at 3127 Eastern Avenue, Sacramento. For information, visit www.morpd.com
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – What do a classic, British comedic farce about mistaken identity, an old aunt from Brazil and human trafficking all have to do with one another?
Well, everything, if you are among the cast and crew members of FreeFall Stage, which is preparing for, among other productions and events, an 11-day run of Brandon Thomas’s “Charley’s Aunt” at the EPIC Bible College in Carmichael beginning March 1.
To begin with, the play: “Charley’s Aunt,” kicks off the FreeFall’s 2018 season. The play was originally performed in three acts and reportedly broke historic performance records (1,466) for plays of all genres upon its debut run at London’s Theatre Royal in February of 1892. It promises to deliver everything you ever needed or wanted in a comedic play: love, laughs and lies, fake accents and impostors--all delivered with good intentions. No one gets hurt.
The play is one of six full-time productions on the FreeFall agenda for the season. FreeFall got its start in Folsom in 2002 as T.H.E. (Talented Home Educated) Actors Workshop. Initially, it began by offering theatrical training to high school students. By 2012, productions were added and the name was changed and public performances were added to the mix.
Today, FreeFall Stage is Folsom’s longest-running community theatre. It is thriving even without a permanent home. The lease on its original space at the Sutter Street Theatre was up in 2015, so the company has been producing nomadically at various locations around the Sacramento County area since.
FreeFall, says House and Stage Manager, Emma Eldridge, daughter of FreeFall Stage Founder, Dee Dee Eldridge, would like to find another home in Folsom, but is keeping its options open.
“We are in search of a permanent space right now and ultimately our own performance center in Folsom,” said Eldridge, who will play Miss Amy Spettigue in “Charley’s Aunt.” This is where we originally set down roots and we’d like to stay in Folsom if possible.”
The company, says Eldridge, typically produces what she calls “family friendly” plays. But it also has been quietly building a name for itself for diving into darker social justice issues, specifically human trafficking, which it did with an 18-show run in Folsom in 2014 of Andrew Kooman’s play, “She Has a Name.” There is also a film version. Both explore the dark underworld of human sex trafficking in Thailand.
“We are known for being family friendly, yet at the same time we like doing shows that have a message,” said Eldridge. “We were the first to produce and perform that play and then we toured it around Sacramento and Northern California until 2016.”
In October, FreeFall will once again take a dive into the issue of human sex trafficking. FreeFall company staff have been meeting with and interviewing actual human trafficking victims, getting their stories down and preparing to produce those stories in a series of monologues.
“We will be producing original stories from survivors, men and women, and the intent is to raise awareness of this issue and keep the stories alive so that no one forgets how serious this is,” said Eldridge. “It is an important subject and we are excited to be working on this next project. It is very different from our typical productions because it will be a collection of monologues, so it is very special.”
FreeFall, which is a non-profit running on donations, ticket sales and other forms of support, has partnered with some of the area’s leading anti-trafficking entities, including 3Strands Global, Blue Heart International and Courage Worldwide.
The company currently has about six board members and seven on staff, with various numbers of actors, depending on the performance. Currently, there are 10 actors preparing for the March 1 run of “Charley’s Aunt,” which Eldridge says has been in the works for some time.
“We love this play,” said Eldridge. “It’s not a well-known play, but it is action-packed and very funny. Those of us who are in it are still laughing after rehearsals. We looked at doing it last year but it didn’t work out. We try to offer a good balance of themes and we haven’t done a farce in a while. I think it’s a good way to start out our season.”
FreeFall’s annual gala is also coming up. Set for April 21, the “April in Paris” themed event will benefit the company’s productions, rental fees for spaces until it finds another permanent home, as well as classes for students, which are still offered.
African American Family History Seminar Enlightens All
SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The 2018 annual African American Family History Seminar is a good place to discover your ancestry, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned researcher. “Many people come to our seminar who may not be African American, but their child, or their grandchild, or their husband or wife may be,” said Sharon Styles, co-chair for the seminar. “Sacramento is so diverse in people that anyone can come and learn. The genealogists who want to be more informed when they’re researching for other people, they come to learn.”
The seminar will be held from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, March 10 at the FamilySearch Library, 2745 Eastern Ave., Sacramento. The fee is $28 and registration by March 2 will guarantee receiving the syllabus and lunch. For high school and college students registration and lunch is only $10. Attendees can register online at www.AAFHS.com.
Styles became a member of the seminar committee in 2013. “I’ve met so many wonderful people who are also interested in family history and in genealogy, so it’s been a win-win,” Styles said.
The keynote speaker this year will be genealogist and author Angela Walton-Raji, who has focused her research on blended African and Native American families. California Assemblyman Jim Cooper will speak about his own family research after the opening ceremonies. Each hour of class time will include five different courses to choose from. New this year, volunteers will be available for one-on-one assistance if someone has a particular question, or to help navigate Ancestry and FamilySearch.
When it comes to genealogy, Styles said, not everyone has a passion for it. Nevertheless, she encourages everyone to document stories about their families now because birth and death dates are wonderful, but you still need something about them to make them fully formed people. In two or three, or 20 generations from now, what you record about your story will be valuable. “And when you tell your own family history,” Styles continued, “you don’t have to worry about someone else telling your story. In order for our stories to be our own, we have to tell them.”
Denise Griggs, exhibit chair for this year’s seminar, said that her father was orphaned by the time he was eight and all he knew about his parents was that their names were Bud and Sadie. Those turned out to be nicknames and he never found any more information about them. Griggs was eight when her father told her that, and she said to him, “If you promise me you won’t die when I’m a kid, I’ll find your family when I grow up.” When Griggs was at Oral Roberts University, she finally did and faxed the information to her father the day before Father’s Day. She had found a census and by his older siblings’ names in that document, Griggs found her father’s parents. That is when she got into genealogy, 30 years ago.
In the exhibits, local dentist Clay Wilson, who also paints, will have his work on display. There will be photographs from Robert Davis Photography and Sacramento Quilting Collective is coming with some of their homemade quilts. And if you are at the seminar and think you’re seeing double – it is probably Denise’s identical twin, Delores. “We both answer to Denise or Delores,” Griggs said. There’s probably a story there.
“Discovering your roots is a personal portal to the successes and trials of your ancestors,” said Bruce Anderson, chairman of the event. “It will give you a special connection and hope for your life, and it will become a footprint and foundation for future generations.”
If you want to help with this program, you can sign up to volunteer for the African American Family History Seminar by going to https://www.justserve.org/projects/5c961557-bd1f-4875-954b-53ce84bdab23. Or you can go to https://www.justserve.org and enter your town or zip code to find a variety of projects and ways to serve in your community.
Downtown Sacramento wields substantial influence in tax revenue, employment and retail activity
SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - From driving tax revenue and business activity to spurring smart development and innovative workplaces, downtown Sacramento has the potential to leverage investment for profound lasting benefits according to The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study released by the International Downtown Association (IDA) this month.
“This study reinforces what we’ve known for a long time, downtown Sacramento’s impact reaches far beyond its physical footprint,” said Michael Ault, Executive Director of Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “Investing in a strong downtown is crucial for a successful city and region. Our downtown has become an economic and entertainment hub and as a result, a very attractive place to do business, visit and live.”
Produced by IDA in partnership with Stantec’s Urban Places team and 13 place management associations, including Downtown Sacramento Partnership, The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities study explains the unique contributions, importance and benefits of downtown investment and demonstrates the pivotal role downtowns play in the long-term health of a region.
According to the study, downtown Sacramento is an economic and employment multiplier for the Sacramento region with assessed property values totaling nearly $1 billion per square mile. While only accounting for five percent of the city’s land mass, downtown Sacramento represents a share of the region’s residents, workforce and employers well above its geographic size. By comparison, downtown Sacramento provides a higher than average percent of the city’s property tax revenue, lower than average office vacancy rate and a larger than average share of the citywide employment.
“This report confirms what we’ve known since the Gold Rush; downtown Sacramento is the cultural crossroads for arts, restaurants, and jobs, as well as being our City and region’s economic heart,” said Vice Mayor Steve Hansen of the Sacramento City Council. “We must continue to nurture our opportunities and creative communities that fuel this success."
Additionally, the study found that downtown Sacramento:
The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities is informed by experts and downtown leaders from around the country, encompassing over 100 key data points, 33 guiding benefits and five principles: economy, inclusion, vibrancy, identity and resilience. The project examined 13 U.S. downtowns and center cities and was modeled after the award-winning project, The Value of Investing in Canadian Downtowns (2013).
“This report, and all the great data that underlies it, helps to quantify what we’ve known for decades—that a vibrant downtown disproportionately supports the success of any great city. In terms of economic, social, and cultural vitality, downtowns punch orders of magnitude above their weight,” said Craig Lewis, Principal of Stantec's Urban Places. “Our team is proud to have contributed to this piece of vital research to tell the full story of their importance to city and regional economic performance.”
Among key findings for the average downtown:
Continued Ault, “The research in this study should empower the public and private sectors to work collaboratively at multiple levels to encourage investment and support the continued development of downtown.”
Sunday, February 12, 2017 was a day many of us will forever remember.
I was working on our property when an aide called to inform me that the integrity of the Oroville Dam Spillway was compromised that an estimated 30-foot wall of water was about to uncontrollably rush out of the spillway, and that Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea had called for a mandatory evacuation.
Knowing Sheriff Honea to be a measured person, I knew he would not call for such an order without strong evidence. He must have weighed all the factors in his thoughts and deliberation.
Immediately, I contacted him to offer my full support.
Soon thereafter, nearly 200,000 people of the North State, from Plumas Lake to Oroville, quickly loaded their treasured possessions and pets and evacuated via congested highways.
Despite heavy traffic, residents – no doubt fearing the unknown and dealing with anxiety – evacuated without chaos.
Law enforcement officials and volunteers directed citizens to where they needed to go. Hundreds of first responders assisted and transported those who were most vulnerable. Residents of neighboring regions opened their homes to displaced families.
In this time of high stress and unease, the citizens of our region held their heads high and acted admirably.
Over the next few days, Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and I visited residents at the evacuation centers. We talked and shared cookies and donuts with our friends and neighbors.
Between the visits, I called the Governor’s Office and the director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for status updates.
After this alarming incident, thousands of workers from Kiewit Corporation and its subsidiaries descended onto Oroville to make the necessary repairs to the spillway. Their hard work is greatly appreciated.
But there’s more to be done.
A year later, sediment and debris from the spillway disaster still clog the channels of the Feather River and are strewn along the riverbanks. This disregard for the environment forced Butte County, the City of Oroville and local jurisdictions to file lawsuits against the state. Penalties can be as high as $51 billion.
At the state level, I have held many meetings in my office to discuss repair and communication efforts with state officials and community members. My staff and I continue to work with Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency to get funding to shore up the levees.
Along with Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale), the Oroville Strong Coalition, Assemblyman Gallagher and I travelled to Washington, DC to lobby federal officials. Our request to have the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) delay the license renewal is pending.
This disaster has united our community. We are now stronger than ever.
On the one-year anniversary of the evacuation, community members and leaders, businesses, and public officials affected by the order gathered on the steps of the Capitol to commemorate the event and call for efforts to prevent any similar disaster in the future.
In the coming year, we will continue to encourage the Governor to sign Assembly Bill 1270 (Gallagher), a measure to require more thorough dam inspections which I shepherded in the Senate.
I will continue my efforts to push for $100 million in state funding for flood control efforts and to clean up the Feather River system.
It is also my goal to have DWR include our community in their decision making process. We want a seat at the table when DWR decides to either send more water to Los Angeles or hold back water, among the other decisions they make.
That’s why I authored Senate Bill 955. This measure would create a citizens advisory commission for Oroville Dam and the Feather River system. This commission would allow for participation by the residents who are directly affected by the dam’s operations and strategic plans.
With the strength and support of the community, I am optimistic that we will achieve these goals for the safety of our people and the prosperity of our local economy.
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Elected to the State Senate in January 2013, Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter.