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Flaw In The System? Early Release Of Sacramento Shooting Suspect Raises More Questions

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Another major question surrounds Sunday's tragic shooting in Sacramento: Why was one of the suspects previously released from prison early?

Smiley Martin, who's facing gun charges in the shooting, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting his girlfriend. But he was released in February after serving just five and a half years. The state is saying he acquired enough credits to get out early.

Early release is not a new concept, but it is one getting more attention on the impacts it has on the community. After Sunday's shooting, questions are being raised on if the system failed and what laws need to change to prevent it from happening again.

That frustration came from a person with direct knowledge of the 27-year-old Martin. We are hiding their identity for safety reasons.

"In a way, it probably could've been prevented," our source said. "They allowed that to happen by not confining him to a sentence for a real bad crime that he already did."

Martin's record includes robbery and domestic violence, among other convictions. He was released from prison in February.

"Some inmates are receiving up to 66% of their sentence off, meaning for every day you serve, you get two additional days off your sentence," our source said.

Inmates can earn extra credit toward early release for things like good behavior and participating in rehab programs. Violent offenders earn the least amount of credits.

Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire explains domestic violence is not considered a violent offense.

"You can inflict injuries on people that you are in an intimate relationship with," Gire said over Zoom. "You can hurt them, you can assault them, and it's not a violent offense and it should be."

We asked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation what credits Martin received. They said they're banned by state law from releasing that information.

"Those should be earned. It shouldn't merely be being present in prison. That isn't enough to deserve credit in my opinion," Gire said. "You have to earn it and we should know what you have to do to earn it."

Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said her office has been fighting against early release since it started in 2016

"If you are a felon and you pick up a new gun crime, that's considered non-violent under the penal code," she said. "And that means you get out now at half your sentence. That's not accountability and that's not safe for Californians."

It's a perceived flaw in the system that some wonder if not there could have prevented this tragedy.

Schubert's office said it argued against Martin's early release, believeing he would break the law again.

The CDCR is currently taking public comment on the rules that allow for early release credit until April 13 if you want to weigh in.

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