As Crime Increases, Newsom Releases Murderers and Closes Prisons

Last month the California Board of Parole Hearings, which is under Governor Newsom’s authority, approved parole for child murderer Patrick Goodman.  Goodman, a repeat felon, beat his girlfriend’s three-year-old son to death in 2000.  Sean O’Driscoll of Newsweek reports that the little boy died of a broken neck, broken ribs, a severed bowel, a severed artery and fifty separate external injuries.  In 2002 Goodwin was convicted of murder and child abuse in San Francisco and sentenced to 25-years-to-life.  Twenty-one years later, after fifteen minutes of deliberation, the two Board  Commissioners announced, “We find that Mr Goodman does not currently pose an unreasonable risk to public safety and is therefore suitable for parole.”  Assistant District Attorney Victoria Murray-Baldocchi pleaded with the Commissioners not to parole Goodman.

“His murder robbed a baby child of a fourth birthday. Learning how to shave, his first kiss, of going to college, of making cards for his mother on Mother’s Day, celebrating his siblings’ birthdays. I suggest he (Goodwin) is still in denial as to how brutal his murder was of this tiny little innocent human.”

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has contacted Governor Newsom asking that he overturn the Board’s decision. But there is a problem. Governor Newsom has promised to close several California prisons and spend the savings on rehabilitation programs. This requires a sharp reduction in the state’s prison population. To accomplish this, he has authorized his Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to dramatically increase “good time” credits for inmates, including murderers, qualifying them for early release after serving only half of their sentences in some cases. Releasing monsters like Goodman early is just part of the plan.

While our Foundation recently won a Sacramento Superior Court decision prohibiting murderers serving 25-to-life sentences to be eligible for release until they have served the entire 25 years, several required legal steps may prevent that decision from being enforced for months. Even after it is enforced, absent some major changes in sentencing policy, California prisons will continue to provide early releases for dangerous habitual criminals.

As he Governor’s plan to empty out the state’s prisons is not saving any tax dollars. In fact the cost of incarcerating a California prison inmate has increased by more than 90% in the past decade, reaching a record-breaking $132,860 annually, according to state finance documents. That’s nearly twice as expensive as the annual undergraduate tuition — $66,640 — at The University of Southern California, the most costly private university in the state.

Newsom’s closure of three state prisons and the cancellation of a private prison contract is expected to save nearly $700 million next year, yet the Governor’s proposed budget increases state prison expenditures by over $2 billion compared to 2019. Most of the increase is from recently negotiated union contracts with the state’s 26,000 prison guards and 1,700 medical employees. Even after closing three prisons the state had 15,000 empty beds last year and if current policies are maintained this number will increase to 20,000 in three years.

For most Californians this is hard to rationalize in the face of the dramatic statewide increases in crime and violence. But for the state’s political leaders, the sensible thing to do is give early releases to murderers like Patrick Goodwin.


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