Public Safety Community Applauds the Rejection SB 443

The public safety community in California is pleased with the defeat yesterday of Senate Bill 443 by Senator Holly Mitchell, a bill that would have impeded the ability of law enforcement agencies to go after drug kingpins. In response to the defeat of SB 443, Marc Debbaudt, President of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, issued the following statement:

“The legislation would have denied every law enforcement agency in California direct receipt of any forfeited assets. California’s asset forfeiture law would have been changed for the worse and this dangerous piece of legislation would have crippled the ability of law enforcement to forfeit assets from drug dealers, especially now, when current laws make arrest and incarceration an incomplete strategy for combating drug trafficking. Narcotics investigations are costly, and the California asset forfeiture law’s dedication of forfeiture proceeds to the seizing law enforcement agencies supplements their serious resource needs when they pursue drug traffickers and their ill gotten gains. SB 443 would have undermined one of the most important tools used to combat complex transnational criminal enterprises.

“After the passage of Proposition 47 and Criminal Justice Realignment, incarceration is NOT a deterrent to narcotics trafficking. To drug dealers, custody time is looked at as a minimal “cost of doing business.” If drug assets are still available to dealers upon release, they go back to the business of selling narcotics. In more sophisticated operations, the drug dealer facing time in custody is merely a foot soldier for the bigger fish to whom the assets actually belong. Passage of the bill would have caused a severe public safety threat – it would have been a license to expand for drug cartels and narcotics trafficking on all levels, endangering our communities and schools.

“I am pleased to see the unified effort of public safety labor and management groups throughout the state who came together to defeat this dangerous bill. Public Safety advocates representing the Association Of Deputy District Attorneys; Association For Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs; California Association Of Code Enforcement Officers; California College & University Police Chiefs Association; California Narcotic Officers Association; Los Angeles Police Protective League; Riverside Sheriffs’ Association, Cal. Chiefs, and many other groups worked tirelessly to educate elected officials regarding this dangerous piece of legislation.”

If you have friends who would like to receive future ADDA press releases, blogs or our popular Monday Morning Memo, please click here.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

What Realignment Has Done to Restitution Collection and How It Can Be Fixed

[Lydia Bodin]

In October of 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bills 109 and 117 that created Public Safety Realignment.  Prosecutors are very familiar with the effect and influence of realignment on sentencing and incarceration but are, perhaps, less familiar with the unintentional collateral consequence that made restitution collection impossible at the county level for offenders who are now both supervised and incarcerated locally.

Before the Public Safety Realignment, restitution was and continues to be collected by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and local probation departments. Well-defined collection and distribution systems that were and remain statutorily authorized are in place to ensure that victims could collect on court ordered restitution.  Unfortunately, following realignment, newly created classes of convicted individuals locally supervised and incarcerated were not made subject to any complementary statutory authority to collect restitution.

Many victims in this county are currently not receiving the restitution to which they are entitled because this county has not yet established a collection mechanism that has responded to the negative changes Realignment has brought to the collection of restitution.  As of January 1, 2015, the law fully supported the collection of restitution at the county level from Realignment created classes of convicted individuals.  Our county must now rise to the challenge of collecting restitution in the post-Realignment environment. Article 1, section 28 of the California Constitution gives victims the right to restitution.  In order for that right to be a reality, it is imperative that collection now begin from individuals sentenced pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h); on mandatory supervision; and, on post-release community supervision.  It should be noted that if these individuals were in state prison as they used to be, they would be subject to restitution collection at the level of 50% from all deposits into their inmate wage and trust accounts.

The following convicted individuals may now be made subject to restitution collection at the county level:

  • County prisoners sentenced pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h)(A) who serve their time on a blended sentence or who serve their full term in county jail and who are released with no supervision currently could be subject to collection from their inmate wage and trust accounts for up to 50% of each deposit.  Unfortunately there is no agency or mechanism set up to collect in this county.  Penal Code section 2085.5 allows a county board of supervisors to appoint an agency or the Sheriff to collect from inmates in county jail.
  • County prisoners sentenced pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h)(B) who are on a so-called split sentence and released into the community under the mandatory supervision of  the Probation Department can be subject to statutory authorized collection as of January 1, 2015 pursuant to Penal Code 2085.6. Collection is based upon an ability to pay as determined by the Probation Department.
  • State prisoners who are now on post release community supervision pursuant to Penal Code section 3451 are under the supervision of Probation and will can be subject to statutory authorized collection as of January 1, 2015 pursuant to the newly created Penal Code 2085.6.  Collection is based upon an ability to pay as determined by the Probation Department.

Pursuant to statute, a county board of supervisors must determine who is the collecting agency or agencies in a county.  Once that initial threshold decision is made, counties can establish collection mechanisms and can then collect and distribute restitution.  In this county, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors authorized a working group in November of 2014 to make recommendations to them through the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee for the purpose of establishing a restitution collection system in this county.  The committee is chaired by the Office of the Los Angeles District Attorney.  Work has been ongoing for the last eight months to establish a multi-agency integrated system that will collect and distribute restitution in this county from convicted populations created by Public Safety Realignment. The committee is a multi-agency taskforce comprised of the Sheriff; the District Attorney; Public Defender; Probation; the Treasurer-Tax Collector, the Internal Services Division; and, the Auditor Controller.

Prosecutors are keenly aware of the toll that crime takes on victims.  Crime is not just a violation of a law – it is frequently a devastating financial event for many victims.  Recently, I got a call from a woman whose family business had been deeply harmed through the loss of $100,000.00 in embezzled money.  I had to tell her that the defendant, an individual who this woman had assisted and allowed to live in her home, was in county jail on an 1170(h) sentence and that currently there was no collection mechanism in this county.  Several months ago an elderly gentleman asked me if I could get even just a nickel because he wanted to know that the defendant was paying at least something. This same conversation with victims is currently repeated multiple times a day by personnel in the Restitution Enhancement Program.  Victims are consistently incensed and angered by the fact that they cannot get their restitution. Most sadly, their confidence in the justice system is failing.

Absent collection from supervised and incarcerated individuals, victims are left to obtain justice in civil courts by executing the restitution judgment in that arena.  Victims are ill equipped to champion their own restitution collection.  In addition, a greater burden is placed on the civil courts to execute restitution judgments.  It just makes sense to create and strengthen restitution collection in this county.

On September 15, 2015, the Board of Supervisors will vote on the foundational aspects of a collection system in this county. These foundational components include who are the collectors and at what percentage level collection will occur from inmate wage and trust accounts.  Following this initial approval by the supervisors, many more months of work are ahead to establish protocols and a working system that will include county criminal justice partners.  With the approval of the Board of Supervisors to create a viable restitution collection and distribution system, victims will be better served and will have confidence in our ability to both protect and to obtain justice for them.

Lydia Bodin is a member of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys(ADDA) and is currently serving as the Deputy In Charge of the Restitution Enhancement Program and Abolish Chronic Truancy.  The ADDA is the collective bargaining agent that represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Increase In Attacks On Police Officers Should Be A National Wake-Up Call

Over the last several months, our nation has seen rhetorical attacks on police morphing into unprovoked ambushes and murders of police officers across the nation. In response, ADDA President Marc Debbaudt issued the following statement:

“The spike in unprovoked ambushes and murders on police officers across the nation demands further public attention.  While a handful of leaders including President Obama and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have spoken out about this issue, where is a sustained public outcry?  A successful police department is a department that not only protects its community, but is also supported by the community and elected officials.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys calls on our public leaders and the public, to speak out against this disturbing spate of violence.  In our professional roles, we honor police officers who have been murdered in the line of duty by seeking justice for them and their families.  As Deputy District Attorneys, we don’t only honor the memory of the officers at the time of the crime but also seek justice after the trial and sentencing.  As prosecutors, our obligation continues years later, when the crime has faded from the headlines and the killers seek freedom.  We appear at the parole hearings of these killers to ensure the memory of the murdered officer remains vivid and alive, and that justice continues to be done for the families of the officers.

Public safety requires a strong two-way partnership. The ADDA calls on community leaders across the nation to speak out and make it clear that violence against law enforcement will never be tolerated. Those who threaten or bring violence against police officers threaten the safety and security of our own communities.”

If you have friends who would like to receive future ADDA press releases, blogs or our popular Monday Morning Memo, please click here.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Coalition Letter Opposing Parole for Voltaire Williams

Coalition Letter Opposing Parole for Voltaire Williams (8-31-15)

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

August 31, 2015

Honorable Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Governor of the State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 915814

Dear Governor Brown:

The  Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the California College and University Police Chiefs Association, the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, the California Narcotic Officers Association and the Riverside Sheriffs Association all join with the Los Angeles Police Protective League in expressing our strongest opposition to the   finding of suitability and grant of parole to inmate Voltaire Williams (CDCR # E17796), who is serving a life sentence for his critical role in the assassination of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams in 1985.  Inmate Williams was a key participant in what has been described as one of the worst murder plots in Los Angeles history.

On Halloween night 1985 Detective Williams was picking up his young son from school.  As they were preparing to leave, Officer Williams was shot and killed when eight bullets from a fully automatic assault weapon struck him.  Detective Williams only had time to order his young son, Ryan, to duck, causing the other nine bullets to fly past him.  The Medal of Valor, the LAPD’s highest award for bravery, was given to Detective Williams posthumously for saving his son’s life at the cost of his own.

Inmate Voltaire Williams (no relation to Detective Williams), has admitted his profound role in the death of Detective Williams.   The assassination of Detective Williams began when he successfully arrested Daniel Steven Jenkins for a 1984 street robbery that escalated into a near-fatal hit on the victim of that robbery and ended with Detective Williams’ murder during the Jenkins robbery trial.  The plot was initially hatched to sabotage Jenkins’ robbery trial since Detective Williams was the lead investigator on the Jenkins robbery case.

The original plan was for Voltaire Williams to murder Detective Williams, but Williams elected to sub-contract the job to a friend, Aladron Hunter, to be the actual triggerman working under Voltaire Williams’ close supervision.  Ultimately Hunter declined to murder Detective Williams. Voltaire Williams attempted to persuade Hunter’s to change his mind, but to no avail, and Jenkins (who was on a low bail release from his robbery trial) ultimately murdered Detective Williams.  Immediately after the murder, Aladron Hunter informed the police and was ultimately a prosecution witness in both the trials of Voltaire Williams and Daniel Steven Jenkins.

Although Voltaire Williams had ample opportunity to inform law enforcement of the plot, he declined to do so “out of loyalty to Jenkins.”   All parties agreed that if Voltaire Williams had called police before the actual hit, it would have saved Detective Williams life.  His “loyalty” to Jenkins effectively sealed Detective Williams’ fate.

Although Detective Williams was the victim of this callous plot, he is only one victim.  In a very real sense, the target of this plot is the integrity of the entire criminal justice system.

We believe this parole grant jeopardizes public safety due to Voltaire Williams’ minimization of the true “execution” nature of the killing and his admission that he helped orchestrate and permitted these events to go forward out of a greater loyalty to Daniel Jenkins.

Moreover, the larger public policy implications of the release of persons who murder police officers are significant and should not be ignored when considering whether or not to release someone who has murdered a police officer. Simply put, such releases send a message that we do not value the lives of front-line officers on any serious level.  Daily, police officers confront situations where the possibility they will not return home at the end of the day is very real. Feasibly, the only protection – albeit a decidedly intangible protection – is awareness (on the part of the criminal) that if he murders a police officer he does so with certain knowledge that his own freedom will be forever forfeited.  This is a tenuous shield for an officer, but a shield nonetheless. The moment we begin releasing persons who participate in the murder of  peace officers in the line of duty will, in essence, begin the dissolution of even that most fragile of shields.

In closing, and as it pertains to Voltaire Williams, there is nothing he has presented that suggests any mitigating circumstances which would now make parole appropriate; he is still the key conspirator in the murder of Detective Williams and should not have been granted parole by the Board of Parole Hearings. Voltaire Williams’ release is not only unjustified given his individual circumstances, but from a larger policy perspective, this release constitutes an unreasonable risk of harm to all police officers who work our streets every day.

The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the California College and University Police Chiefs Association, the California Correctional Supervisors Organization, the California Narcotic Officers Association, and the Riverside Sheriffs Association all join  Los Angeles Police Protective League respectfully requesting this parole grant be reversed pursuant to Penal Code §3041.2.

Sincerely,

Tim Yaryan
Legislative Counsel
Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
Association of Deputy District Attorneys
Riverside Sheriffs Association

John Lovell
Legislative Counsel
California College and University Police Chiefs Association
California Narcotic Officers Association
California Correctional Supervisors Organization

Cc:  Nancy McFadden, Executive Secretary to the Governor
June Clark, Deputy Legislative Secretary, Office of the Governor
Thomas Remy, Board of Parole Hearings/ Legal

More madness: Second cop killer gets parole hearing

On November 4, 1978, Jesus Cecena executed San Diego Police Officer Archie Buggs.

On August 28, 2015, the onetime gang member has a parole hearing.

Cecena had been drinking beer and smoking PCP-laced marijuana when Buggs, a Vietnam veteran, pulled him and a fellow gang member over during a routine nighttime traffic stop in San Diego. After firing five shots at Buggs, Cecena pumped another round into the officer’s head as he lay dying in a gutter, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Now, despite his merciless slaughter of a man who dedicated his life to keeping his city’s citizens safe and secure, Cecena is asking the state to be merciful to him. This, courtesy of a new state law that makes it easier for criminals who committed heinous crimes as juveniles to be freed. (Cecena was four months shy of his 18th birthday when he murdered Buggs, who was one of a handful of black officers on the San Diego police force.)

Cecena’s case would be troubling if it stood alone. Sadly, it does not.

The state parole board freed a record 902 “lifers” this past year, far surpassing the numbers released in prior years. One of them was Voltaire Alphonse Williams, who, as we reported in a recent posting, played a central role in the brutal 1985 murder of LAPD detective Thomas Williams (no relation) in front of his six year-old son. The parole board, very quietly and without cause, freed Williams on Aug. 4, according to a detailed piece by Arnold Friedman in LA Observed. And the gang member with Cecena the night he murdered Buggs could add to the list of hardened criminals freely roaming the streets. Jose Arteaga, who was 20 at the time, likely will have a parole hearing later this year or in early 2016, according to the Times.

There is certainly room for compassion in criminal justice. But not for cop killers – no matter how difficult their childhoods were or their age when they committed the crime. There are few crimes more monstrous than murdering law enforcement officers. These killings are not just murders of individuals, they are attacks on the very foundation of our society. Law enforcement professionals – be they police or prosecutors – are on the front lines of a largely invisible but constant struggle to maintain order and protect innocent citizens against those who seek to do them harm.

To be sure, there is some cause for hope.

Last year, the parole board recommended that Cecena be freed. Gov. Jerry Brown rejected that incomprehensible suggestion, agreeing with prosecutors that Cecena remains a threat to the public and has not taken full responsibility for murdering Buggs. And a long list of current and retired law enforcement professionals vigorously oppose the release of the cold-blooded killer, including San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. Dumanis said she will take the unusual step of attending Friday’s parole board hearing, according to the Times. We urge Gov. Brown to display the same wisdom and courage he displayed last year if the parole board again recommends freeing the callous cop killer.

But while there are glimmers of hope, there is much more cause for concern.

As evidenced by its decisions to free hundreds of lifers in the past year alone, the parole board appears to be hell-bent on emptying the state’s prisons, no matter what kind of mayhem they unleash on the state’s unsuspecting civilians. We’re also under assault from Prop. 47, which, as we have previously reported, turned a host of felonies into misdemeanors, allowing thousands of hardened criminals to be eligible for early release. Law enforcement professionals agree that the surge in crime in many parts of the state – including here in Los Angeles – is directly tied to this horribly misguided voter-approved initiative.

It is imperative that all Californians rally against the increasing tide of threats to every man, woman and child who reside in, or visit, this state. We will do our part by informing you immediately and in detail about all broad threats to public safety as we become aware of them. Today, we repeat the call that we issued earlier this month for Gov. Brown to dim the din of insanity, and fix a travesty of justice, by demanding a change in the parole board’s decision in the Williams case. If you want to contact the Governor directly about Williams or Cecena, click here.

If you have friends who would like to receive future ADDA blogs or our popular Monday Morning Memo, please click here.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Attorney General: Reed initiative eliminates constitutional protections for vested pension benefits

The California Attorney General has acknowledged that the scope of Chuck Reed’s initiative is to eliminate constitutional protection for the vested pension benefits for all current public employees, and subject their future salaries and benefits to a public vote.

In the  official “Title and Summary” for the initiative, the Attorney General states that the initiative, “Eliminates constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree healthcare benefits for current public employees, including those working in K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals, and police protection, for future work performed.”   The summary also found the initiative would subject all public employee compensation to public vote.

This initiative is directed at every current public employee in the state, whether they are a Deputy District Attorney, Judge, police officer, firefighters, teacher, college professor or clerk. The Attorney General summary exposes as false Reed’s claim that his initiative is narrowly focused on pensions for future employees, not the vested benefits of current public employees.  Instead, the Attorney General analysis concludes that in addition to eliminating constitutional protection of vested benefits, it also lets voters direct the scope of collective bargaining, or disapprove agreements reached in collective bargaining.

The Attorney General was not the only public entity to provide analysis of the initiative.  We wrote about the initiative’s threat to the stability and existence of all pensions plans and its impact on disability benefits for future public employees, including police officers and firefighters.  CALPERS, meanwhile, issued a letter stating the initiative could cause IRS issues that would “affect the system’s tax exempt status;” and would “make providing death or disability benefits extremely impracticable.”

It is noteworthy that three days after the Attorney General’s “Title and Summary,” the San Jose City Council voted to ask a Judge to invalidate Reed’s 2012 Measure B — a pension initiative which devastated public safety in San Jose.  To quote a Bay Area columnist, “The city conceded that Measure B was a mistake, an error, a massive foot fault.  The council agreed to ask a judge to invalidate it, to brand it formally as incorrectly designed law.”   Unfortunately for San Jose, the damage Reed caused will take years to repair.

Reed has promised legal review of the Attorney General’s Title and Summary before attempting to collect signatures to qualify the initiative.  In the meantime, he has resorted to his familiar playbook of lies and invective labeling those opposing his initiative as “government union bosses” and repeating his false claim that the initiative doesn’t eliminate constitutional protections for vested benefits.

Please read our previous pension blogs, The destruction Chuck Reed wants to bring to California, Attention Shoppers: Don’t Sign that Misleading Pension Petition!, Your Pension is Under Attack and Fuzzy Math Continues To Drive Public Pension Hysteria.  If you want to learn more about pensions, we encourage you to visit Let’s Talk Pensions.

If you have friends who would like to receive future ADDA blogs or our popular Monday Morning Memo, please click here.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

City must protect travelers at LAX through strong background checks for TNC drivers

[Michele Hanisee]

On Tuesday (August 18) a committee of the Los Angeles City Council takes up the issue of allowing so-called transportation network companies (TNC) to access Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) legally. The Board of Airport Commissioners recently adopted a policy to do so and delegated authority to the Los Angeles World Airport’s executive director to implement a permit system, however the City Council asserted jurisdiction over the matter as it is entitled to do under the city’s Charter. In doing so, multiple Council members raised important issues about public safety, concerns that the ADDA share. There are other important policy issues surrounding TNC’s such as Uber and Lyft, but our focus is the issue of traveler safety.

Tourism is such a huge part of our regional economy and local residents as well as visitors to Los Angeles must have a transportation system that is safe. As TNCs become part of the growing number of airport access options, travelers should not be picked up by drivers with manslaughter, rape, identity fraud, or other serious felony convictions. The city’s taxicab regulations require taxi drivers to submit fingerprints when they apply to drive, which are then checked against the U.S. Department of Justice criminal database. Applicants with dangerous or questionable backgrounds are rejected. TNC drivers at LAX must be subject to the same finger printing and background check requirement. Sadly, the Board of Airport Commissioners was silent on this issue and it is unclear what type of background checks will be required for TNC drivers. If there are procedures that would enhance the rigor of background checks, these should be added too.

In addition, taxi drivers (as well as transit operators and limousine drivers) are screened for driving under the influence and reckless driving and are part the California Department of Motor Vehicles “Employer Pull Notice” program. Accidents, convictions, and license suspensions are all reported to the city so that they can be reviewed and taxi driver permits revoked, if appropriate. TNC drivers at LAX also must be screened through their DMV records and be part of the DMV Employer Pull Notice program. Again, the Board of Airport Commissioners did not make this a requirement.

The City Council must mandate finger print-based background checks through the U.S. DOJ, screening of DMV records, and participation in the DMV Employer Pull Notice program for TNC drivers. In addition, both the Council and the public must know what rules apply to the TNCs at LAX. This can only be achieved if the Board of Airport Commissioners adopts specific rules rather than delegating rulemaking to airport staff. This ensures transparency in the process, allows policy makers and the public to verify that adequate public safety rules are in place, and protects the millions of travelers that use LAX each year.

As such, the City Council should reject the Board of Airport Commissioners fuzzy TNC policy and require that specific rules are adopted that protect public safety. The traveling public deserves nothing less.

Michele Hanisee is Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys. She can be contacted at mhanisee@laadda.com. The view and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ADDA which represents nearly 1,000 Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.

Widow of Murdered LAPD Detective Thomas Williams Speaks Out

Our most recent blog post, “California Crazy: Conspirator in Cop Killing Paroled” was about the pending parole of Voltaire Williams who was a conspirator in the murder of LAPD Detective Tom Williams.

We urge everyone to read the powerful letter from Tom’s widow Norma and then take the time to write to Governor Jerry Brown and ask him to reverse the decision of the Parole Board. You can contact the Governor directly by clicking here and referencing Voltaire Williams, CDC number E17796.   Below Norma’s letter is a sample letter you can send to the Governor.

If you have friends who would like to receive the free ADDA blogs or our popular Monday Morning Memo, please click here.

The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

 

Norma C. Williams

August 12, 2015

 

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

ATTENTION: Legal

State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, Ca 95814

Re: Voltaire Williams (no relation)

CDC # E17796

Dear Honorable Governor Brown:

This letter is being sent to you with immense grief and sadness. I learned on August 4th that Voltaire Williams was granted a parole pending a review period of 120 days or less.

Governor Brown, I pray that YOU and your staff take the time to review all of the facts of the case.  Voltaire Williams may not have directly murdered my husband, LAPD Detective Thomas C. Williams but he was one of Daniel Jenkins’ accomplices in the murder plot.  The record shows that Voltaire Williams, at the behest of Jenkins, RECRUITED a potential assassin who backed out of the plot when he saw my husband Tom arrive at the planned location of the “hit” and suspected that the intended victim was a police officer and not a security guard as he had been informed.

As you consider the pending parole, you should also know that a murder plot against me and my children was discovered during the investigation of the murder case. It was disclosed by another one of Jenkins’ henchmen that while looking for Tom at or near the school that he had gone by our home.  A call was made to Daniel Jenkins to report that Tom was not around.  The person asked Jenkins, “The family is here – do you want me to take them out?”  That plan was obviously not carried out.

Most importantly, it is a fact that Voltaire Williams himself, only a few days before the murder, was “staked out” in front of the school in anticipation of Tom’s arrival to pick up Ryan. Tom did not show as expected. We later learned that Voltaire was there to kill Tom and in possession of a gun given to him by Daniel Jenkins. Upon hearing the news of Voltaire Williams’ pending release, my adult children and I were devastated and I hope that you will use this information to deny Voltaire parole.

You should also know that the “decision” to grant Voltaire parole pending was decided by only TWO Parole Board members – not the usual number of Board members.   If you do not personally intervene and do the right thing and reverse the decision of two people, I would like to DEMAND THAT THE FULL PAROLE BOARD review these two members’ decision and that all the facts of this case be introduced into the record.

I implore you Governor Brown to REVERSE the idiotic decision made by two people who did not weigh all the facts or take into account the real danger Voltaire poses for society.  As the record will show, after Tom’s murder, my children and I were under protection due to known and credible threats.  Voltaire is a follower and if released would resort to his old ways and associates.  He is neither remorseful nor “rehabilitated” and he has been counseled on how to “play the system” in prison.

If Voltaire Williams is released, I strongly fear that my children, my grandchildren and I will be in real danger.  That is the reason I moved out of California which was my home state and where Tom gave his life protecting others.  I am more concerned about my safety and welfare.

Please Governor Brown, do not allow the Parole Board to render this decision.  Please give me and my family peace of mind.  We always believed in the judicial system as well as did Tom. He was a wonderful father, husband and friend to many.  Tom’s memory and ultimate sacrifice should not be diminished due to prison “over-crowding” or economic reasons.  Tom was proud to be an LAPD Detective and only wanted to keep his community and family safe.  He was the son of an Army career officer and was offered an appointment to West Point. Tom turned it down by saying, “My future is being a police officer and the only department I want to join is the Los Angeles Police Department… no other.”

My children will be sending you their letters stating their thoughts. While I know that you have heard from many people in and out of law enforcement begging and pleading with you to reverse the illogical decision of two members of the Parole Board, please read their letters carefully and consider the emotional pain our family has suffered for over 30 years from a person who shows no remorse and is still a danger to the residents of California.

Sincerely,

Norma Williams

Wife of LAPD Detective Thomas C. Williams

 

 Sample Letter

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing to urge you to reverse the decision to parole inmate Voltaire Williams CDC # E17796.

Voltaire Williams was involved in the murder of Los Angeles Police Detective Thomas Williams on October 31, 1985.

The murder of Detective Williams was carefully planned over several days and committed in retaliation against an officer who was merely performing his assigned duties, the investigation of a robbery of a movie theater manager in the act of making a bank deposit at a “night drop.”

Detective Williams was assassinated in front of his six-year-old son Ryan.  Detective Williams was off duty at the time of the murder, picking up his son from the church school that he attended.  Ryan saw his father gunned down in a hail of bullets from a fully automatic MAC-10 assault rifle.  It is astonishing that neither Ryan, who was standing less than six feet away from his dad, nor any of the other children inside and outside the school, were struck by the fusillade of bullets that penetrated the nearby classroom walls.

Voltaire Williams himself sat “in wait” to kill Detective Williams the week prior to the actual murder.  Voltaire in his 2011 Parole Board hearing admitted that he accepted the contract to kill Detective Williams for $2,000 and sat across the street from the school.  He was thwarted from the killing only because Detective Williams arrived to pick up his son from a direction different from his normal route.  That is when he decided against committing the murder himself and retained someone else to commit the murder of Detective Williams.

While the state has the requirement to reduce the population of the California Prison system under the Federal mandate, you cannot possibly believe in good conscience that releasing Voltaire Williams is a suitable way to fulfill those goals.  Please overturn the decision of the Parole Board and deny his parole!

Sincerely,

XXX

California Crazy: Conspirator in Cop Killing Paroled — A Hint of Things to Come?

The headlong rush to empty California prisons of dangerous criminals who are serving life sentences has unfortunately received scant coverage by the media. Most people would be horrified to know that a record 902 “lifers” were granted parole this past year, far surpassing the numbers released in prior years.

A case in point is Voltaire Alphonse Williams, who played a central role in the brutal 1985 murder of LAPD detective Thomas Williams (no relation) in front of his young son. The goal of this assassination was to stop Detective Williams from testifying in a robbery trial. As reported in detail in a piece by Arnold Friedman in LA Observed, Williams was granted parole on Aug. 4.

Detective Williams had just picked up his six year-old son from school and was about to get into his truck when a gunman approached and unloaded 18 rounds at them. Williams only had time to tell his son to duck before being struck eight times. He was killed instantly; his son miraculously escaped unharmed.

Voltaire Williams was not the gunman. But he played a key role in attempts to kill Detective Williams so that he could not testify against Daniel Jenkins, who was about to stand trial for a violent robbery. Jenkins had hired Voltaire Williams to arrange for a hitman to murder the detective. Voltaire Williams was supervising the hitman during the first murder attempt, but the hitman backed out when he saw Williams with his son. After the hitman refused Williams’ plea to try again, Jenkins dressed in a disguise and murdered the detective himself.  The case was broken open when the hitman went to the police after the murder.

Law enforcement groups around the state, led by the  Los Angeles Police Protective League, lobbied tirelessly for Williams to remain behind bars. Their efforts appeared to have paid off. In 2014, a parole board denied parole to Williams, ruling he would not be allowed to apply again until 2017.

But this month, the parole board, on its own, suddenly granted Williams parole. There was no change in circumstances from last year, when Williams was told to wait three years to reapply. The reason for the board’s incomprehensible decision appears to be nothing more than a simple desire to empty prisons.  The magnitude of the crime, and the devastation it inflicted on Detective Williams’ family appear to be just footnotes in a move designed to free up a prison bed.

This is a parole that should NEVER have been granted. The murder of Detective Williams was a direct assault on the criminal justice system, undertaken for the sole purpose of trying to ensure that a person would not stand trial for or be convicted of a violent robbery. The justice system is ill served by the board’s inexplicable and unjustifiable reversal of course.

Why is Williams fit for parole now, when he wasn’t a year ago? How many of the 902 “lifers” who committed horrific crimes of their own were granted parole because their crimes occurred long ago and weren’t in the headlines?  On what criteria is the parole board basing its flip-flops?

The Los Angeles City Council was right in 2011 when it passed a resolution to oppose the release of Williams. Today we call on Governor Brown to fix a travesty of justice by reversing the parole board’s decision.  If you want to contact the Governor directly, click here and reference Voltaire Williams, CDC number E17796.

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The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Prosecutors Rely On Facts And Evidence, Not Individual Biases In Making Charging Decisions

[Bobby Grace]

A recent opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times bytwo Stanford law professors discussed a study they conducted that purportedly documents a lack of diversity among California prosecutors.  The op-ed created a great deal of discussion among career prosecutors in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The essential premise of the article was that criminal justice system would be fairer and more just if the local prosecutor offices were staffed with more attorneys who were of the same ethnicity or race as the communities they served.  In this claim, the authors failed.

Buried in the piece was the author’s admission their study “did not analyze how workforce diversity in prosecutors’ offices influences the outcome of criminal cases.”  Their claim that other (unnamed) researchers have found minorities receive different sentences when minorities are underrepresented by prosecutors is a non-sequitur.  Sentences are imposed by Judges, not prosecutors.  Nor was their premise of unequal treatment advance by their claim that, “respect for the law and trust in legal institutions are undermined” when prosecutors are not diverse.

I agree that diversity is laudable goal in all facets of life including the criminal justice system. Diversity is improving in prosecutor’s offices, and prosecutor gender diversity is very high.  In fact, in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office females comprise the majority of prosecutors, and the elected district attorney is an African American female.

Any lack of diversity is not the product of intentional discrimination.  Prosecutors can only be hired from one distinct population — lawyers.  Regrettably, attendance of law schools by minorities, both by color and ethnicity, is low.   African Americans and Latinos, the groups most represented as charged defendants, have low representation in the legal profession and in law schools.

Diversity is very important, but let me be clear; there is no real evidence that it affects what happens in a criminal courtroom. All prosecutors in California took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States and the State of California, and have promised to seek the fair administration of justice regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation. It is a promise that the residents of California should demand they adhere to, and if there is a failure to do so it must be exposed and corrected.

The authors of the Times opinion piece, Debbie Mukamal and David Alan Sklansky, offer no evidence whatsoever that prosecutors in California treat those accused of a crime differently based on race, creed, or sexual orientation. As an African American prosecutor I took the oath I described above. I chose this profession because it is important to me that my community gets the same fair and just law enforcement as any other group in California. I expect my Asian, Latino and white colleagues to ensure that happens in every courtroom in Los Angeles County.  Does it happen in every instance? No. Sadly racism exists in any large institution in America and the criminal justice system is no different.

The authors discuss prosecutors’ diversity by talking about high profile deadly force cases involving police officers across the country.   The public understandably has questions when a police officer kills a person who later is found to be unarmed and not attempting to unarm an officer.  While we can debate the justification of any individual killing, it is clear this issue is causing deep mistrust of the criminal justice system by communities of color. But the color of the prosecutor’s skin, their gender, or ethnic background does not determine if you will be charged with a crime by a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney.  Either the evidence supports the criminal charge, or it doesn’t.

In my experience, the prosecutors within the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office rely on facts and evidence, not individual biases, in making charging decisions and handling criminal cases. I do not know of a single Deputy District Attorney that treats cases differently based on the individual Deputy District Attorney’s race, ethnicity, or gender.  I am confident that prosecutors across the state do the same.  It should be the expectation of every person living in Los Angeles County that such professionalism exists in all cases, and that every case be handled based on the facts and evidence without consideration of the gender, race or creed of the defendant.

Diversity as a goal is laudable; it is not a substitute for ethical behavior by prosecutors, which I believe the residents of California should demand and receive.

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Bobby Grace is a Director of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. He can be contacted at bgrace@laadda.com. The view and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ADDA, which represents nearly 1,000 Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.