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CDCR - What You Need to Know Information relating to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. Q&A for those new to the CDCR system should be posted here.

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Old 01-10-2019, 08:05 PM
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Default Question re CDCR Records on Inmate

I have 2 questions that I hope someone can answer.


My son was told by his counselor that they had a note in their records that he had fired a gun at his girlfriend, which is not true. He fired the gun in the ceiling while he was in the room with her.



Would CDCR have different information on him than what is in the police reports? Actually maybe a better question is what records does the court sent CDCR? Do they send the police reports and the Preliminary Hearing data to them?


I'm thinking of sending the part in the police report where his girlfriends statement shows that he did not fire the gun at her, just upwards.


The other thing is that he was told that he is probably not eligible for Prop 57 by his counselor although they did not give him a VIO on his record because they know that he did not hurt anyone. My question is if he wasn't given a VIO, why would they then give him an 80% sentence? Why not a 50% sentence since no one was hurt? Is the 80% mandated by the courts?


Thanks for your help!


Halo
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:20 PM
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The other thing is that he was told that he is probably not eligible for Prop 57 by his counselor although they did not give him a VIO on his record because they know that he did not hurt anyone. My question is if he wasn't given a VIO, why would they then give him an 80% sentence? Why not a 50% sentence since no one was hurt? Is the 80% mandated by the courts?
First-- counselors know about an eighth of what they should. Not (always) their fault, the regs have been rapidly changing and they have little training and high turnover. So good on you for following up.

By "eligible for Prop 57", what do you mean? Virtually every inmate is eligible for something out of 57 whether that be the ability to earn credits for time off, earlier parole hearing date for non-violent strikers, ect.

The 80% is set by the court because of the penal codes used that CDC in turn uses to enforced Good Conduct Credits. The fact that he used a gun at all qualifies as a violent felony. Or should. They've even tagged people with VOs who pretended to have a gun in their pocket because of the mental distress on the victims. What Prop 57 did was give CDC permission to adjust that. That's a knife that can cut both ways depending. The only way for a VO (not the same as having a VIO) to drop below 80% is to move to fire camp. Even when they earn credits, they will still be at 80% and the time off will be factored with that 80% in mind.

The fact that his gf was in the room is most likely noted (no...I don't know the documents they send but I'll ask as soon as I talk to him) because they may use that info to factor domestic violence into his privileges. For example, Family Visits may be more challenging if they considered this a domestic issue.

I know it's messy and feels so unfair. My LO is serving 37 years at (now) 80% when no gun was fired, no injury and no firearm was discovered as evidence. His 'victim' was two weeks from 18 and so CDC considers him a threat to minors, barring him from seeing his children and Family Visits. It's frustrating beyond belief.

Last edited by miamac; 01-11-2019 at 12:38 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:02 AM
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Would CDCR have different information on him than what is in the police reports? Actually maybe a better question is what records does the court sent CDCR? Do they send the police reports and the Preliminary Hearing data to them?

The other thing is that he was told that he is probably not eligible for Prop 57 by his counselor although they did not give him a VIO on his record because they know that he did not hurt anyone. My question is if he wasn't given a VIO, why would they then give him an 80% sentence? Why not a 50% sentence since no one was hurt? Is the 80% mandated by the courts?
I got a copy of my son's CDCR C file about a year ago. Police report, or bulk of it was in there. So I would assume same with your son. Miamac is right. Counselors are often wrong or uninformed. They sometimes do not get told much, just pass messages back and forth between inmate and higher ups in prison. Lack of information can be frustrating to counselors, same as us. It sounds like counselor - or someone - is making an incorrect interpretation about what happened. That does not surprise me that they haven't read it carefully.

It is possible a violent offense conviction, but CDCR does not code inmate as violent or removes the violent classification over time. CDCR coding does not determine percent credit, the penal code determines that so he is 80% regardless of CDCR classification. You want him not classified violent in CDCR records. This allows him to eventually get to level 1 and not be a "hard 19" as they call it. Get below 19 points, minimum security (still a violent offense per penal code), but he would then be eligible for firecamp and that is his ticket to 50%.

It takes time, but keep a long term eye on the ball.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:10 AM
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First-- counselors known about an eighth of what they should. Not (always) their fault, the regs have been rapidly changing and they have little training and high turnover. So good on you for following up.

By "eligible for Prop 57", what do you mean? Virtually every inmate is eligible for something out of 57 whether that be the ability to earn credits for time off, earlier parole hearing date for non-violent strikers, ect.

The 80% is set by the court because of the penal codes used that CDC in turn uses to enforced Good Conduct Credits. The fact that he used a gun at all qualifies as a violent felony. Or should. They've even tagged people with VOs who pretended to have a gun in their pocket because of the mental distress on the victims. What Prop 57 did was give CDC permission to adjust that. That's a knife that can cut both ways depending. The only way for a VO (not the same as having a VIO) to drop below 80% is to move to fire camp. Even when they earn credits, they will still be at 80% and the time off will be factored with that 80% in mind.

The fact that his gf was in the room is most likely noted (no...I don't know the documents they send but I'll ask as soon as I talk to him) because they may use that info to factor domestic violence into his privileges. For example, Family Visits may be more challenging if they considered this a domestic issue.

I know it's messy and feels so unfair. My LO is serving 37 years at (now) 80% when no gun was fired, no injury and no firearm was discovered as evidence. His 'victim' was two weeks from 18 and so CDC considers him a threat to minors, barring him from seeing his children and Family Visits. It's frustrating beyond belief.
By prop 57 I mean having the enhancement dropped. I was just wondering where they got their info from because it's not correct. I am aware of fire camp reducing the sentence to 50% but he was told he can't go until he's down to 10 years.

Mia, you are right! The enhancements are out of hand and doesn't make sense. Someone can kill another and get 7 years, but the guy who doesn't hurt anyone can get 14 years! There was a case in the same courthouse where the guy premeditated and killed his friend deliberately and that guy got 10 years! And I've heard of someone using a BB gun during a robbery and getting a 10 year enhancement when no one was hurt. A car is a lethal weapon in the hands of a drunk driver but if they kill someone, they get 2 to 10 years!

And it's terrible that your LO is barred from seeing his children. They should allow it at some point, how fair is that to his kids!

I'm about to write to Californias elected officials and refer them to The Brennan Report. Have you read it? It has 21 key points to reform the justice system. One thing I liked was two points on sentence assignment. First was how badly the victims were injured (none in my son's case). The second is how did the crime impact the victims (not at all in my son's case). Should he have been punished? Yes, you can't just go around shooting guns off and scaring people. But 14 years? That's just ridiculous.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:19 AM
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By prop 57 I mean having the enhancement dropped.
That's the non-violent parole consideration. Has to be a non-violent crime per penal code. Gun enhancement generally falls under penal code 667.5; violent felony. Unfortunately.

As a technicality, enhancements don't get dropped per se. 57 allows for parole consideration once full term of primary sentence is served. A paper parole evaluation. If they agree, yeah it's more or less the same as dropped, you spend the enhancement time on parole. Hugely better than in prison.
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:24 AM
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I got a copy of my son's CDCR C file about a year ago. Police report, or bulk of it was in there. So I would assume same with your son. Miamac is right. Counselors are often wrong or uninformed. They sometimes do not get told much, just pass messages back and forth between inmate and higher ups in prison. Lack of information can be frustrating to counselors, same as us. It sounds like counselor - or someone - is making an incorrect interpretation about what happened. That does not surprise me that they haven't read it carefully.

It is possible a violent offense conviction, but CDCR does not code inmate as violent or removes the violent classification over time. CDCR coding does not determine percent credit, the penal code determines that so he is 80% regardless of CDCR classification. You want him not classified violent in CDCR records. This allows him to eventually get to level 1 and not be a "hard 19" as they call it. Get below 19 points, minimum security (still a violent offense per penal code), but he would then be eligible for firecamp and that is his ticket to 50%.

It takes time, but keep a long term eye on the ball.
Hi Gvalliant! Thanks for weighing in! How do you get the cdcr record?

My son was classified level 3 with either 34 or 32 points, whichever it was he was 2 points away from level 2, so they agreed to a biannual review on tuesday. We are hoping he will be sent to Norco as its only an hour away, but he also requested Shafter (?) Which is by Wasco and 2 hours away, so still not too awful. But Norco is also close to extended family so he would have more visits too. X your fingers for us!

He's definitely going to try for fire camp in a few years. In the interim the plan is education and vocational programs, maybe a college degree, all will help towards sentence deduction. I think we are all beginning to feel more hopeful. Still hard to think about that Long sentence, but I think when the dust settles, he will serve 7 years total, with one almost done.

Hope your son is doing better!

Halo
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:38 AM
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Hi Gvalliant! Thanks for weighing in! How do you get the cdcr record?

My son was classified level 3 with either 34 or 32 points, whichever it was he was 2 points away from level 2, so they agreed to a biannual review on tuesday. We are hoping he will be sent to Norco as its only an hour away, but he also requested Shafter (?) Which is by Wasco and 2 hours away, so still not too awful. But Norco is also close to extended family so he would have more visits too. X your fingers for us!

He's definitely going to try for fire camp in a few years. In the interim the plan is education and vocational programs, maybe a college degree, all will help towards sentence deduction. I think we are all beginning to feel more hopeful. Still hard to think about that Long sentence, but I think when the dust settles, he will serve 7 years total, with one almost done.

Hope your son is doing better!

Halo

I had his attorney get them through legal department at the prison. CDCR charges per page, I forget exact amount - maybe 10 or 15 cents per page. Amazing how big it is. Around 600 pages after 2.5 years...

Fingers x'd for your boy. They don't often give bi-annuals, that's a blessing so be thankful. My boy has had some rough sledding the last year or so but some recent wins so that is good and I hope a sign of things to come. I don't know what the hell I did to get on this roller coaster. Hell of a ride. As if we had a choice, right?
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:33 AM
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I had his attorney get them through legal department at the prison. CDCR charges per page, I forget exact amount - maybe 10 or 15 cents per page. Amazing how big it is. Around 600 pages after 2.5 years...

Fingers x'd for your boy. They don't often give bi-annuals, that's a blessing so be thankful. My boy has had some rough sledding the last year or so but some recent wins so that is good and I hope a sign of things to come. I don't know what the hell I did to get on this roller coaster. Hell of a ride. As if we had a choice, right?
We certainly did not plan on our son's going to prison, that's for sure. And the process is very rough for us and our boys. I've been practicing compartmentalizing the whole thing. If I didn't I would be completely miserable. Still, I often wake up at night reliving the nightmare of the process and can't get back to sleep.

I'm going to begin working on reform activism. I hadn't planned on it being a calling, but maybe things do happen for a reason.

Hey, has anyone ever organized a PTO get together in SOCAL? Maybe a few of us can work on reform together? Power in numbers!
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:35 PM
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I'm going to begin working on reform activism. I hadn't planned on it being a calling, but maybe things do happen for a reason.
If we put a poll up I think you'd find you're definitely not alone in feeling this way. I put a shameless request in my Christmas letter this year that everyone take a look at the stats and proposed reform for their state's justice and corrections departments. In my Christmas letter?! Ha! It's just a part of me now. My husband and I have talked about the ways we can stay involved when he's home. It's a hard thing to turn your back on once you've been exposed.
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Old 01-11-2019, 09:07 PM
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I'm going to begin working on reform activism. I hadn't planned on it being a calling, but maybe things do happen for a reason.

Hey, has anyone ever organized a PTO get together in SOCAL? Maybe a few of us can work on reform together? Power in numbers!
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If we put a poll up I think you'd find you're definitely not alone in feeling this way. I put a shameless request in my Christmas letter this year that everyone take a look at the stats and proposed reform for their state's justice and corrections departments. In my Christmas letter?! Ha! It's just a part of me now. My husband and I have talked about the ways we can stay involved when he's home. It's a hard thing to turn your back on once you've been exposed.
Touche to involvement. The more we learn the more we see how much criminal justice system in California - and the US - needs reform. Two things strike me.

Bulk of reform is focused on the "non-violent" offenders. Politicians and the public have been trained to be afraid of the boogeyman - violent offender. Almost to a person they have no idea what that means. Doesn't matter. Violent offenders are bad and deserve no help...

The other is reform is rarely retroactive. Decades of overly harsh sentencing and overincarceration. Reform too often lacks that courage to fix existing mistakes and problems; only addresses new cases going forward. I get why that happens politically. Still I want retroactive change so currently incarcerated benefit.

I've become something of a pest to a few people in Sacramento. I wonder sometimes if they roll their eyes when they see email or text or phone call from me. It is a process. Would be nice to do as part of an organized group, strength in numbers.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:20 PM
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Touche to involvement. The more we learn the more we see how much criminal justice system in California - and the US - needs reform. Two things strike me.

Bulk of reform is focused on the "non-violent" offenders. Politicians and the public have been trained to be afraid of the boogeyman - violent offender. Almost to a person they have no idea what that means. Doesn't matter. Violent offenders are bad and deserve no help...

The other is reform is rarely retroactive. Decades of overly harsh sentencing and overincarceration. Reform too often lacks that courage to fix existing mistakes and problems; only addresses new cases going forward. I get why that happens politically. Still I want retroactive change so currently incarcerated benefit.

I've become something of a pest to a few people in Sacramento. I wonder sometimes if they roll their eyes when they see email or text or phone call from me. It is a process. Would be nice to do as part of an organized group, strength in numbers.

While true that most reform has been towards helping people with "non-violent" sentences, I had read that Jerry Brown actually wanted to include people with some "violent" crimes into Prop 57, but he was afraid if he did, that it would not pass at all, so he did leave it out. And of course, SB 620, giving judges the right to not enforce gun enhancements "in the interest of justice" does help with violent crime. The problem I have with that is that I really don't believe any judge will throw out the enhancement, especially in light of what happened to the judge in the Brock Turner case - after all, judges are "political" animals, but the fact that they are voted into office.


But I do believe that the "officials" are aware that some people are being given sentences that are far in excess of what they did. And we are now seeing District Attorneys who know and understand this. ACLU has a whole campaign on "know your DA". They've been stressing that former Prosecutors don't make the best DA's (too tough on crime).


I recently came across a report written by The Brennan Center for Justice. The report is title 21 Principles for the 21st Century Prosecutor. Plus, I have found so many articles that have been published on who should and should not be in prison and the over-incarceration of Americans. I believe that we are in a period that this will be addressed and will ultimately lead to shorter sentences (and commutations).


A recent article I read was written the the Editors at Time.com (the article is how I became aware of The Brennan Center Report). They found that approximately 39% of the nationwide prison population (576,000 people) is behind bars with little public safety rationale. They think that penalties for crime should be the most effective, proportional and cost-efficient sanctions to achieve proper sentencing.



They stated that we should consider 4 major factors in assigning sentences. First was seriousness of crime (murder should be penalized much heavier than writing a bad check), second was victim impact (how much was the victim hurt), third was the intent of the person, such as knowingly and deliberately violated the law. The fourth factor was recidivism.


Here's the link to the report if you'd like to read it: http://time.com/4596081/incarceration-report/. It's title 39% of Prisoners Should Not be in Prison.


This is the fight that I want to take to our elected officials in California, because my son's sentence was so incredibly punitive and unfair. In his case, no one was hurt and there was no victim impact, in fact they continued to party well into the night after he was taken away. And I will never forget how the day after he was sentenced I had read a report about a girl who had a fight with her boyfriend and stabbed him in the heart the next day and killed him. Know how much time she received? 7 years, compared to the 14 years and 4 months my son received where no one was hurt (a 10 year gun enhancement for a 1st time offender). CDCR does not even consider that he is a Violent Offender, because no one got hurt.


I'd love to talk to you about your calls to Sacramento. I have a plan for how I want to approach our elected officials, starting with a letter to Governor Newsom and followed by a meeting with my elected official. Then I want to approach every elected official in California with a letter or phone calls. I thought I might also talk to someone at Initiate Justice - they might have good tips for how to approach elected officials.


Anyway, I'm sending you a personal message with my contact info. I'd love to hear from you.


Halo
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:56 AM
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CDCR does not even consider that he is a Violent Offender, because no one got hurt.
If you don't mind me asking, what were the penal codes used in his charges/sentencing? It was my understanding that the use of a firearm dictates a VO status. No one was hurt by my husband's crime, either, but because a witness said he was carrying a gun, he was charged with a violent felony.
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:21 AM
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If you don't mind me asking, what were the penal codes used in his charges/sentencing? It was my understanding that the use of a firearm dictates a VO status. No one was hurt by my husband's crime, either, but because a witness said he was carrying a gun, he was charged with a violent felony.

He was hit with 5 counts of 245(b), 1 of 459 PC, 2 of 246.3(a), 1 of 25850(a), 1 of 594 (a) and 1 of 243(e)(1) and of course the gun enhancement - 12022.5(a)-(d) to go with all of the 245 (b).



the Plea bargain (such a bargain - NOT) was 1 count of 245(b), 1 count of Criminal Threats (459PC? - not sure of this) and one count of discharge of a firearm and the enhancement.


His counselor told him that since no one was hurt during the incident that he does not have a VIO on his record.


Hope that helps you! Let me know if you want to know anything else.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:37 AM
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His counselor told him that since no one was hurt during the incident that he does not have a VIO on his record.
Ahh, I see. No VIO. I understand. But he's serving at 80%, correct? I think I got it now. Ha! Sometimes the difference between sentencing guidelines and what CDCR "labels" our loved ones can be...well, choose an unfriendly adjective.

Mine is considered a VO (serving at 80%), but also has a VIO on his classification because he has had a few fights in prison over the course of 16 years. Though praise God he made a change eight years ago and doesn't dip into that life any more. :/

Thank you for sharing. It's always a bit amazing to talk/chat with others when it comes to sentencing and see the stark contrast in treatment that can happen. As (I think?) you've mentioned, people with much more violent crimes, true injurious acts, get less time than our loved ones thanks to enhancements. It's just insane.
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Old 01-13-2019, 12:22 PM
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No one was hurt by my husband's crime, either, but because a witness said he was carrying a gun, he was charged with a violent felony.
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His counselor told him that since no one was hurt during the incident that he does not have a VIO on his record.
I view CDCR as distinct from California penal code, like their own country or state with their own rules and laws. Somewhat like Federal law and state law. They have differences.

Consider robbery. Violent crime per California PC667.5. Same crime under Federal law is generally considered non-violent for the reasoning you both point out. If no one was hurt, no actual violence on the victim, it is not violent. Then in CDCR "law" it can be designated violent or non-violent. Go figure.

At this stage, the "law of CDCR" is what matters to us. Conviction for violent crime in California law may get violent designations in CDCR, maybe not. If a violent designation, that can sometimes be changed. Unlike rigid California penal code, CDCR is more arbitrary or has flexibility. How they decide violent or not, how they decide to change, I don't know. It would be a good project to better understand so inmates with violent designation would know if they have a chance at getting that removed and what they need to do to make that happen.

To the theme of this thread, it is important to know what your CDCR records actually say, not just assume.

It is confusing. Federal rules. State rules. Prison rules. They can get tangled up. I think that is why issues with ICE detainers are so mucked up. Feds say prisons and jails have to notify ICE if an illegal alien is being released. Does CDCR follow CDCR rules or follow state rules or follow federal rules? I wouldn't want to be the person making that decision. You're wrong no matter what you do.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:25 PM
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Ahh, I see. No VIO. I understand. But he's serving at 80%, correct? I think I got it now. Ha! Sometimes the difference between sentencing guidelines and what CDCR "labels" our loved ones can be...well, choose an unfriendly adjective.

Mine is considered a VO (serving at 80%), but also has a VIO on his classification because he has had a few fights in prison over the course of 16 years. Though praise God he made a change eight years ago and doesn't dip into that life any more. :/

Thank you for sharing. It's always a bit amazing to talk/chat with others when it comes to sentencing and see the stark contrast in treatment that can happen. As (I think?) you've mentioned, people with much more violent crimes, true injurious acts, get less time than our loved ones thanks to enhancements. It's just insane.
Yes he's serving at 80%. I don't quite have the lay of the land down yet, as he is just completing 6 months.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by gvalliant View Post
I view CDCR as distinct from California penal code, like their own country or state with their own rules and laws. Somewhat like Federal law and state law. They have differences.

Consider robbery. Violent crime per California PC667.5. Same crime under Federal law is generally considered non-violent for the reasoning you both point out. If no one was hurt, no actual violence on the victim, it is not violent. Then in CDCR "law" it can be designated violent or non-violent. Go figure.

At this stage, the "law of CDCR" is what matters to us. Conviction for violent crime in California law may get violent designations in CDCR, maybe not. If a violent designation, that can sometimes be changed. Unlike rigid California penal code, CDCR is more arbitrary or has flexibility. How they decide violent or not, how they decide to change, I don't know. It would be a good project to better understand so inmates with violent designation would know if they have a chance at getting that removed and what they need to do to make that happen.

To the theme of this thread, it is important to know what your CDCR records actually say, not just assume.

It is confusing. Federal rules. State rules. Prison rules. They can get tangled up. I think that is why issues with ICE detainers are so mucked up. Feds say prisons and jails have to notify ICE if an illegal alien is being released. Does CDCR follow CDCR rules or follow state rules or follow federal rules? I wouldn't want to be the person making that decision. You're wrong no matter what you do.
The AWD is not on the 667.5 list, but the gun enhancement is, which is why I think he is not eligible for prop 57.

But you are right, way too many laws and rules. Amazing how much I now know about the penal code. I educated myself while we were in the trial phase. I can probably pass that b part of the California bar.
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