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District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer expresses frustration towards pending CDCR releases

Cynthia Zimmer
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 21:15:21-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer has been no stranger to expressing her frustration towards the pending release of nearly 8,000 inmates by the California Department of Corrections.

On Tuesday, the DA took to Facebook to share a message regarding those inmates who are set to be released in Kern County. In her message, she wrote that some of the inmates scheduled to be released include the following:

  • Anthony Surdi, who was convicted of a residential burglary in 2016 and sentenced to 9 years in prison because he had a prior strike conviction for another residential burglary.
  • Raymond Wagner, who was convicted of serial vehicle theft and arson with a prior strike conviction was sentenced to 8 years in prison in 2017.
  • Franklin Villaltajuarez, who was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run after fleeing the scene of a fatal rollover crash that he caused by driving recklessly. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 2018.
  • Dakota Cameron, who was convicted of 16 felony charges after being caught with a gun and a drug-dealer's toolbox that evidenced trafficking and sales in all of the following drugs: Methamphetamine, Psilocybin (mushrooms), LSD, Oxycodone, Cocaine, and Xanax. Sentenced to 7 years in prison in 2018.

These are just four of the nearly 600 inmates scheduled to be released from Kern County state prisons, according to the CDCR. The CDCR has said that out of the 600 inmates, 180 are expected to remain in Kern following release.

Zimmer went on to address the CDCR Secretary Ralph M. Diaz and a letter he wrote on July 9 addressing all incarcerated persons. In the letter, Diaz acknowledges "the significant burden" COVID-19 has had on inmates and their families, including:

  • Suspension of visits.
  • Reduced phone call schedules due to physical distancing and cleaning requirements.
  • Schedule changes.
  • Housing changes.
  • Program suspensions and extremely limited movement.

Zimmer stated in her Facebook post she has yet to see a similar message from the CDCR "addressed to all victims of these inmates' crimes who are seeing inmates released before serving their sentences, or communities who are seeing crime rates rise."
Earlier this month, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer vocally opposed the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation decision to release prison inmates in the midst of COVID-19 for several reasons, including concern for public safety.

These inmates will be monitored by the Kern County Probation Department.

  • WATCH: Kern County Probation Department prepares to monitor inmates released in the midst of COVID-19
Kern County Probation Department prepares to monitor released inmates

According to Kern County Chief Probation Officer TR Merickel, the department is maintaining strong communication with the CDCR to monitor the inmates. He said the likelihood of an inmate to re-offend is assessed, and that risk determines how often the probation department checks in on them.

Meanwhile, the department is also working to help the inmates readjust to life outside of prison.