by Kenneth G. Keel
In 1997, this author was arrested for an alleged petty theft and subsequently given a 25-years-to-life Three Strikes prison term. On Nov. 7, 2012, the day after California’s voters approved the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 Initiative – Proposition 36 – I submitted a pro per petition for a recall of sentence and resentencing. Based on the length of time already served, I should have been promptly released from custody with no parole or probation.
On Jan. 23, 2013, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan issued an order to show cause to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office to show cause, if any, why I should not be resentenced and released. Subsequently, the DA’s Office found no reason to oppose resentencing, but asked for Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) to be imposed as a condition for resentencing.
At the hearing on my petition on April 24, 2013, Judge Ryan stated that, although the law neither requires or authorizes him to impose PRCS in a case like this and that he cannot do so without the petitioner’s agreement, he would grant the resentencing only if the petitioner agreed to waiving sufficient back time credits to allow for one year of PRCS. Out of California’s 58 counties, I am not aware of any other superior court imposing PRCS on Prop 36 beneficiaries.
Contrary to Judge Ryan’s requirement for me and many others to be placed on PRCS, The Wall Street Journal reported his initial position, noting: “Prosecutors have argued that the released prisoners should be placed in a supervision program, but the judge and defense attorneys have disagreed. That ‘would have been a desirable provision’ in the law, Judge Ryan said, but it isn’t there.”
What is PRCS?
In short, PRCS is county probation. The Post Release Supervision Act of 2011, Assembly Bill 109, which is codified as Penal Code Sections 3450 (b)(5) states: “Realigning the post-release supervision of certain felons reentering the community after serving a prison term to local community corrections progress, which are strengthened through community-based punishments, evidence-based practices, and improved supervision strategies, will improve public safety outcomes among felon parolees and will facilitate their successful reintegration back into society.”
Importantly, PRCS comes with “an advisement that if a person breaks the law or violates the conditions of release, he or she can be incarcerated in a county jail regardless of whether or not new charges are filed.” (Penal Code Section 3452(b)(3).) For instance, without a warrant, court hearing or other due process of law, according to Section 3450(b)(8) of the Penal Code:
“Intermediate sanctions may be provided by local public safety entities directly or through public or private correctional service providers and include, but are not limited to, the following: (A) Short-term ‘flash’ incarceration in jail for a period of not more than 10 days; (B) Intensive community supervision; (C) Home detention with electronic monitoring …”
Potential consequences of rejecting PRCS
A common belief held by many Third Strike prisoners is that Judge Ryan’s PRCS requirement is coercive and subjects one to accept it under duress. For instance, in March 2013, a Third-Strike prisoner confined at the Folsom State Prison, Mr. Byas, was notified by his alternate public defender to complete and return a document pertaining to PRCS.
Mr. Byas promptly notified his attorney that his “18 years” of confinement were “enough supervision.” Shortly thereafter, Judge Ryan denied Mr. Byas’ petition for a recall of sentence and resentencing.
Accentuating the positive
On April 30, 2013, after this author agreed to accept one year PRCS with six months outpatient drug counseling, Judge Ryan granted my petition for resentencing. On May 7, 2013, after nearly 16 years of being “incapacitated,” I was released from Folsom State Prison.
Considering the potential consequences of living in a drug-infested and high-crime area, I informed my probation officer that I need housing assistance for a good area. One hour later, my housing request was approved and I now reside in an affluent neighborhood, in a large house with several amenities – cable TV, gym, pool table etc. – 100 percent free.
With the implementation of AB 109, hundreds of millions of dollars are funding thousands of agencies and organizations that provide services and resources to individuals with PRCS. For example, also facilitated by the Probation Department and funded by AB 109, I have obtained immediate and ongoing access to the following at no cost: general medical care, high-quality clothing, personal care products, transportation, computer access, employment services, General Relief referral, SSI/Disability document preparation assistance, and several linked services – eye clinic, dental care etc.
Ironically, PRCS has turned out to be an unforeseeable blessing for this author! While utilizing the aforementioned services and benefits available under PRCS (AB 109), my transition back into society has been virtually seamless.
To contact the author, write Kenneth G. Keel, 674 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.