California DA blasts Newsom’s leadership: ‘The blood of the children ... is on your hands'

'Stop using COVID-19 to further your political agenda,' she said

The Fresno County district attorney condemned California Gov. Gavin Newsom's changes to the state's bail policies amid COVID-19, in light of a recent crime spike.

Newsom, who has made efforts to reform California's criminal justice system while in office, initiated the release of thousands of nonviolent state inmates starting in April and announced in September that he would be closing a state prison next year.

But locals say some of the prisoners who have been released, including some with mental illnesses, are violent.

A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officer wearing a protective mask stands at the front gate of San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) officer wearing a protective mask stands at the front gate of San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"Gov. Newsom ... claims that declining prison populations is the reason why he's doing this, and he applauds himself and criminal justice reformers for bringing the numbers down. While I'm not an opponent of criminal justice reform, I am an opponent of misinformation and lies,"  Lisa Smittcamp said during a Thursday news conference.

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She added that Newsom omitted the fact that he released "violent criminals" when touting the state's decreasing number of inmates. "It's just another example of poor management on the state level," she said.

"No one states the obvious: that Gov. Newsom ignores the drug-addicted people laying in the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles and all the other cities in California like Fresno while paying attention to how to best protect the inmates from prison and not the cities from crime," Smittcamp continued.

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She added that schools, hospitals, grocery stores, police departments and barbershops have managed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with proper precautions, and the governor should find a way to make sure prisons are similarly managing without having to close.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a press conference on Sept. 23.(Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a press conference on Sept. 23.(Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool)

"Stop using COVID-19 to further your political agenda," Smittcamp said of Newsom. "The blood of the children being shot by out-of-control gang members in our city is on your hands and on the hands of every person who does not make public safety a priority."

California’s Judicial Council voted in April to set bail at $0 for certain low-level felonies and misdemeanors in an effort to reduce prison overpopulation amid the COVID-19 crisis. But until last week, people facing gun and gang-related charges also qualified for $0 bail.

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The homicide rate in Fresno has almost doubled since the same time last year, and the Fresno Police Department said it confiscated 71 illegal weapons since Oct. 6, Fox 26 reported.

The Executive Committee of the Fresno County Superior Court made the announcement Oct. 13, and the Fresno Police Department said Wednesday that weapons charges and gang violence no longer qualify for $0 bail.

The zero-bail policy was initially supposed to end in June but was extended.