Fresno’s top law enforcement officials called out Gov. Gavin Newsom to reopen prisons.

After an increase in violent crime in the city, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and several law enforcement leaders addressed the media at a Wednesday afternoon news conference at the county Plaza Building.

Smittcamp Calls Out Newsom

“Governor, open up the prisons. Do your job.”Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp

Smittcamp had choice words for Newsom’s decision to release prisoners in response the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor, open up the prisons. Do your job. Manage. Manage your inmate population with all the restrictions you are putting on us and provide them the medical care they need should they become ill,” Smittcamp said.

Smittcamp blamed the early release of violent prisoners as one of the reasons why Fresno and the state has seen an increase in crime.

“Stop using COVID-19 to promote your political agenda. 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,” Smittcamp said. “Enough is enough.”

Smittcamp also called out Newsom for his plan to close state prisons.

Newsom said he intends to close the Deuel Vocational Institution prison next year. Another closure is planned for 2022.

The governor’s office did not respond for a comment from GV Wire℠.

Hall: Task Force Working

Earlier this month, Fresno Police Chief Andy Hall instituted a city-wide violent crime suppression task force after a wave of violence. This past weekend, a food vendor was seriously injured after an assault.

Despite the sensational cases, Hall says the task force is working. Shootings are down 32%, 71 illegal weapons sized and 165 arrests have been made since October 6. Hall blamed the early release of prisoners and $0 bail for most felony arrests as reasons for the increase.

Like Smittcamp, Hall is calling out the governor.

We can no longer afford to trade a pandemic in our state for a crisis in our community. A crisis of crime. Our jails and our prisons are essential services to our community,” Hall said. “I’m calling on Governor Newsome to open up our prisons. And stop victimizing our community.”

Hall praised a recent decision by Fresno County Superior Court leaders to add more crimes that are exempt from $0 bail, allowing them to remain in jail.

Pastor D.J. Criner, a member of the Commission on Police Reform, closed the news conference with a call for peace.

“This is not a west side problem. This is a Fresno issue. And in the spirit of oneness and of unity, I stand to say Father, be the God of Fresno. Be the God of the color blood of red that flows that every one of our veins. Remind each and every one of us whether we are holding a badge or whether we are holding a Bible, whether we are walking the streets or riding the streets, that life can only be taken by the one who gave it. And that is you.”

5 Responses

  1. Bernard Rieux

    D.J. Criner is a mascot the Fresno Police Department trots around to give the illusion of community partnership with the assurance that he’ll never challenge them in any meaningful way. The FPD uses religious groups exclusively for all their community outreach because these pastors promote the same myth as the police: that social problems are solved through personal responsibility and moral uplift rather than structural and economic changes.

    You can be sure the Fresno Police never call groups like Building Healthy Communities, Fresno Barrios Unidos, or California Rural Legal Assistance when they’re looking for community input, because those people are actually well-read on criminal justice issues beyond just the book of Leviticus.

  2. MGomez

    Why would Fresno Police reach out to Building Healthy Communities? It’s President and CEO, Sandra Celedon, likes to make statements on her Twitter account encouraging rioters in Minneapolis to “burn it down” when referring to the police precinct. She sounds violent and unhinged. We don’t need Sandra’s “community input”.

    Do your homework next time, Bernard, before you make ignorant recommendations.

    • Paul

      Here you go again Gomez, your comments are short lived, full of narrow minded suspisions, and you’re basically a racist. Get real, no tienes corazon.

  3. John Smith

    All the police do is blame everyone else for their inaction, they’ve even admitted that if a police officer sees a car full of gang members, they turn the other way because its easier. I don’t agree with the police being defunded and I absolutely hate the governor’s policies, but law enforcement need to do the job that the public expects from them first. Take responsibility for your job. You already know where all the shootings are happening. You already know what times of day the shootings are happening. You already know what gangs are involved in the shootings. Add more police presence at those locations!

    Instead, Fresno PD has little to no police presence in the South and West of Fresno because you have them all in the Bullard region and North Fresno waiting for a cat to get stuck in a tree or a “Karen” to call 911 on a “suspicious” brown man.

  4. Jeff

    After months of highlighting situation, we are STILL WAITING to see any numbers provided on the proportion of recent crimes committed by zero-bail accused and early release convicted. Nor have we seen comparisons of current crime rates with crime statistics from the Great Recession. We deserve that level of analysis and information from our public servants, and news organizations.


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