Sixteen inmates from Riverside and San Bernardino counties have been quietly transferred out of their death row lockups, enraging the mother of a slain police officer, but co-authored a voter-approved state law employment program Made in which the prisoners are nominated said that the initiative is working as per the intention.
The men were moved from San Quentin State Prison to maximum-security units in other prisons, where they have more privileges, including extra time away from their cells. Four inland women facing execution have been transferred from death row housing at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla to that facility’s general population. His death sentence is unaffected by the transfer.
The Condemned Prisoner Transfer Pilot Program is no secret, as there is a California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation webpage that explains it in detail. The goal is to get death row prisoners to work so that they can compensate their victims. CDCR spokesman Terry Thornton said there are not enough jobs in San Quentin for every prisoner willing to participate in the voluntary program.
But the identities of the prisoners involved, their movement, and even the program are so little publicized that the mother of a murdered Riverside police officer didn’t learn of her murderer’s transfer until months earlier, and San Bernardino The county district attorney said he was unaware the program existed until contacted by a reporter.
related: These 16 Condemned Inland Prisoners Have Been Sentenced To Death
The program was authorized in 2016 when voters approved Proposition 66, with the chief aiming to expedite appeals for the death penalty. But the new law also includes a requirement that all death row prisoners work and the amount of their wages has been increased from 50% to 70%. Prisoners who do not have serious prison disciplinary records are eligible.
Among them was Earl Alice Greene, a Rubidoux mechanic who was convicted in 2011 for the 2010 murder of Riverside police officer Ryan Bonaminio. In February, 55-year-old Green was taken to Salinas Valley State Prison, where he has a job and attends an education. program, Thornton said. Since his first conviction in 1990, Greene has collected an indemnity fine of $3,000.
“I would like to say how wrong this is,” said Gerry Bonaminio, who learned of the transfer from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. “The Evil Thing” took my wonderful son’s life with so much malice, showed no remorse in court and had the audacity to look and smile at my family, and he got out of the death row and is in a program. Oh , how the system fails the victims and their families. So wrong.”
He said Bonaminio told the court that he did not want any compensation from Green. No order was given.
Thornton said the transfer program does not require any notification outside the prison system.
Knowing which prisoners are on the program takes some effort.
CDCR officials would not say directly how many of the state’s nearly 700 death row inmates are attending or provide a list. Anyone seeking prisoner status must submit a name to the CDCR, which will then state whether or not he is enrolled. A reporter was to submit the names of each inland death row prisoner no longer listed as incarcerated at San Quentin, as well as female death row inmates. Some, it turned out, were transferred for medical treatment.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said he was troubled by the challenges in obtaining the information. Four prisoners from his county are participants.
“If the CDCR had to reach out and tell the victims before it happened, that’s a different matter,” Anderson said. “Now it’s always three, four, five months later that some nameless bureaucrat changes things and the victims find out about it, and I think that’s wrong. These people are on death row for a reason “
‘It’s not really… generosity’
One of the program’s creators said that despite what some might expect, the prisoners did not sit in their San Quentin cells for almost the entire day and night leading up to their execution.
“They’re not rotting,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michelle Hanisi. “They have a lot more privileges than the public.”
Hansie said there is a basketball court and baseball field in San Quentin.
Thornton said that there, prisoners have maximum time away from their cells for about five hours a day, seven days a week. This includes time for recreational activities and jobs in which they can make furniture and mattresses and clean the health facility, the prison’s website says. Thornton said that hobbies and education are done in his cells.
Inmates at Green’s Prison, Salinas Valley, can spend almost twice as long from their cells, according to a program presented by Thornton.
Breakfast starts at 6:15 am and lasts for 35 minutes. Education, chores, yard releases and dayroom activities are scheduled from approximately 8:15 a.m. to approximately 11:45 p.m. Education and substance abuse treatment takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Evening meal begins at 4:45 p.m. which is followed by a holiday at 6 p.m. Night Courtyard and Day Rooms from 6:15 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m.
Thornton said their jobs could include maintenance and administrative duties.
Those jobs, Hanesi said, meet the goal of the relocation program. The State Crime Victim Restoration Fund typically pays $10,000 to the survivors of death row murderers, Hanisi said, and the money earned by the inmates helps repay that.
Hanisi, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, said, “If they hold true to Proposition 66, the result is that these people are now paying victim compensation in a way that was never done before, which is a good thing.” Is.” Bargaining unit for the deputy DA in his county. “We have written this with the intention to benefit the victims and not to harass them. They see a lot of negatives without seeing the benefits. It’s not really intended to be generous. “
Anderson said he sees value in providing more compensation to victims. But he said he worries that jurors weighing the death penalty could reject that sentence if the consequences appear similar to the daily existence of a prisoner serving life without parole. No one has been put to death in California since 2006, and in 2019, Governor Newsom banned the executions.
“It undermines what the jurors are considering,” Anderson said.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin declined to comment for this story.
Among the prisoners condemned by an inland jury were Joseph R. Avila, who stabbed two men to death during an argument over a woman in Riverside in 1991; Michael R. Bergener, who murdered a convenience store clerk on Halloween 1980 in a robbery that netted him $50; and Luis Alonso Mendoza, one of the gunmen who killed four people in San Bernardino County’s infamous “Dead Presidents” case in 2000.
None of the prisoners responded to emailed requests for comment on the program.
Participants and prisons are matched based on which facilities are most likely to meet their security, medical and programming needs. The CDCR said all have maximum security units and lethal electrified fences. In addition, those prisoners are watched more closely than others and counted more often. While the prisoners were alone in their cells in San Quentin, they were eligible to have cellmates in their new prisons and could reunite with prisoners serving life sentences if the authorities decided it was safe.
The lockups include California Correctional Institute in Tehachapi, California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California State Prison-Corcoran, Sentinella State Prison at Imperial, Kern Valley State Prison, RJ Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, Salinas Valley and Central California Women’s Facility. Fourteen.
The two-year venture began on January 29, 2020, and is being assessed on an ongoing basis for job assignment success, reinstatement pay, increase in behavior, safety and other factors. After two years, the public will be invited to weigh in, and MPs will decide whether to extend the life of the program.
Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez, who has known Bonaminos well since the November 7, 2010 murder of his son, has a hard time finding the reverse of the program.
“It seems that no matter how you want to frame it, working to get reinstatement is a special privilege. In my opinion, anyone who is a convicted police killer shouldn’t get anything special, Gonzalez said.