The Oddly Tragic Position of Wishing We Had Been Wrong…
By Michele Hanisee
We have repeatedly documented how ex-Governor Jerry Brown, falsely promised that violent felons would not be freed early from prison under Prop 57. Brown knew if he admitted the truth voters would reject his pet initiative.
Reality has struck again. An appellate court just ruled that Gregory Gadlin, a convicted rapist and child molester serving 35 years to life in prison for a new conviction of assault with a deadly weapon, is eligible for early release under Prop 57. In the crime of assault with a deadly weapon for which he is currently incarcerated, Gadlin viciously assaulted his girlfriend Tamara (the ADDA does not publish the full names of domestic assault victims) with a seven-inch butcher knife, slashing her several times across the face, back and stomach. When Tamara raised her hands to tried to shield herself from his attack, he slashed three of her fingers to the tendon. The injuries required numerous stitches, and as detailed in filed court documents,left Tamara with limited mobility in her hand and scars from the attack on her face and back.
His prior convictions-both “strikes” under the three-strikes law-are even more alarming. In 1980, while he was on parole from the California Youth Authority, Gadlin raped a pregnant 17-year-old girl. The girl had just been assaulted on the street by two females. The injured victim accepted Gadlin’s offer to take her to the hospital. Instead, he took her into his residence where he hit her in the face, threatened to kill her, then raped her, sodomized her, and forced her to orally copulate him. Gadlin was sentenced to nine years for the rape. He was again out of prison in 1986, when he took his eleven-year-old niece to a hotel room where he raped her, forced her to orally copulate him, then urinated in her mouth.
Most lucid individuals would concur that the brutal assault by Gadlin on his girlfriend in every way fit the definition of a violent offense. However, thanks to obvious flaws in the way Prop 57 was written, assault with a deadly weapon is a “non-violent” offense. So, notwithstanding his prior strike convictions for forcible rape and child molestation, based on Gadlin’s current conviction the court ruled he must be considered for early release.
So, add a rapist, child molester and knife slashing attacker to the ever-growing list of dangerous and violent offenders whom Prop 57 has now made eligible for early release. We have highlighted inmates convicted of arguably violent offenses who have been released early thanks to Prop 57. Our warning in the campaign that sex offenders would be eligible for early release has sadly proven correct thanks to this and other court rulings.
Prop 57 supporters have been reduced to sputtering that even though violent offenders are eligible for early release, the Parole Board or the Governor will not likely approve such releases. Such claims are not only disingenuous but would be an admission that the parole board is violating equal protection laws by not exercising its discretion within the parameters of the law as defined by the courts. If the court has ruled that inmates such as Gadlin are eligible, the Parole Board mustmeaningfully consider them for early release. Moreover, we are talking about the same Parole Board that has granted release by the busload to murderers serving life sentences. The latest figures (2016) showed the Parole Board had recommended for release 1,590 inmates serving a life sentence, and only 20% of those release decisions were subsequently blocked by the Governor. A discerning stopgap guarding public safety they are not.
We consistently warned voters that Prop 57 would result in early release of violent inmates, but the lies of the Prop 57 supporters won the day. Now we are in the oddly tragic position of wishing that we had been wrong.
Michele Hanisee is 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.