FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2014
CONTACTS: Jann Taber (Vidak) / 916-651-4016 o / 916-207-7511; Carlisle Williams (Anderson) / 916-651-4036 o / 310-804-8418 c; Mark Reeder (Wyland) / 916-651-4038 o / 916-834-4863 c
Senators ask Governor to Immediately Provide Transcripts from Prisoner Release Hearings
Departments citing “computer programing” issues in withholding public transcripts until after Senate confirmation votes
Sacramento – Senators Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) and Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) today requested that Governor Jerry Brown order his secretary of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) to release transcripts of hearings in which commissioners have voted to release first-degree murderers, second-degree murderers, kidnappers and other serious and violent criminals.
For the last several years, these “prisoner suitability” transcripts, which are public record, have been made available to senators prior to confirmation votes on BPH commissioners. Last week, despite the BPH knowing about the upcoming confirmation votes for months in advance, “computer programing” issues was the reason given for not providing the transcripts to the senators.
“For this information on prisoner releases to be withheld, for any reason, is unconscionable. This is matter of public safety. Are these commissioners worthy of confirmation or not? Have these commissioners considered the safety of law-abiding Californians during these hearings? Did they listen to pleas from crime victims’ families? These transcripts give us insight into how these commissioners perform their duties,” said Vidak.
“As a former Attorney General, Governor Brown understands the importance of releasing this information. The public, crime victims and their families, and the Legislature all have a right to this information to make informed decisions about public safety concerns,” said Anderson, the vice-chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee.
“The public deserves transparency in all government operations, particularly when the public’s safety is at stake,” Wyland said. “These transcripts need to be released so the Senate can make an informed decision on the appointees.”
BPH Commissioners Arthur Anderson, Cynthia Fritz, Peter LaBahn, Elizabeth Richardson and Ali Zarrinnam have hearings scheduled before the Senate Rules Committee today, however the full Senate has until July 1 to confirm Anderson, Fritz, Labahn, Zarrinnam and until October 28 to confirm Richardson.
In a separate letter, Vidak, Anderson and Wyland also requested that Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg not take up for vote on the Senate Floor any of the BPH Commissioners until the hearing transcripts are released.
For a copy of the request letter to the Governor, click here.
For a copy of the request letter to the Pro Tem, click here.
# # #