By Eric Siddall
The state parole board continues to demonstrate that it cannot be trusted with the public’s safety. We are especially concerned because this non-elected body now has unfettered power to release felons thanks to Prop 57.
Last week, parole recommended that Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis be granted freedom. While Davis is not one of the better-known Manson thugs, his involvement in two 1969 murders was no less brutal.
Davis admitted to attacking stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea with a knife and holding musician Gary Hinman at gunpoint while Manson sliced his face. Hinman was ultimately tortured for three days before being murdered.
This is certainly not the first time the board has unconscionably and irresponsibly proposed to free brutal criminals. Yet, under Prop. 57, it will have the ultimate power to decide which felons get released.
Prop. 57-falsely marketed as a crime stopper-makes felons eligible for early release from state prison. Sentences handed down by judges, statutory punishments determined by the Legislature, and plea agreements between prosecutors and defendants are now irrelevant. The release decision rests solely with the parole board.
Regrettably, the board has repeatedly shown it is incapable of shouldering this immense responsibility.
In addition to recommending parole for Davis, board panels recently proposed to free Manson family killer Leslie Van Houten and cop-killer Voltaire Williams, who played a central role in the 1985 murder of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams (no relation).
Gov. Brown rejected the panel’s parole recommendation for Van Houten, and he rejected an earlier parole recommendation for Davis in 2016. We hope he does so again.
Parole denial for Davis would be a small victory for public safety. Prop. 57 will unleash a torrent of offenders, many of them dangerous and violent, into our communities. Unlike murderers like Davis, the governor will have little authority to intervene with these felons. It’s a safe bet that it won’t take long for rising crime statistics to expose the tragic folly of this awful, radical experiment.
Eric Siddall is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.