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Fresno’s Top Cops Call Out Newsom on Closed Prisons

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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.”

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email