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Double murderer granted parole in California under new radical DA’s reforms



LA Jail

In 1988, Howard Elwin Jones shot and killed 18-year-old Chris Baker and another boy at a party. At the time of the crime, he was about to turn 18.   He was convicted of double-homicide three years later. 

30 years later, Jones was found eligible for parole during a hearing that prosecutors weren’t even allowed to attend, Fox News reports. 

Jones was denied parole hearings in 2015 and 2017, but with a new series of reforms, he has been found eligible for youth offender parole. 

L.A. District Attorney George Gascón’s radical reforms prevent prosecutors from the DA’s office from attending parole hearings or advocating a parolee’s release. 

“Howard Elwin Jones was granted parole suitably today by the Board of Parole Hearings at his 3rd hearing,” the California Department of Corrections told Fox 11. “Jones is eligible for youth offender parole. The proposal is not final. Grants of parole suitably are subject to a 120-day review period.” 

Prior to Gascon’s arrival, standard protocol was that the prosecutor’s office would send representatives to parole hearings.  

But, shortly after being sworn into office in December, Gascón issued a directive on so-called “lifer parole hearings” that indicated that the office’s “default policy is that we will not attend parole hearings and will support in writing the grant of parole for a person who has already served their mandatory minimum period of incarceration.”

Gascón’s office said that the prosecutor’s involvement ended at sentencing. 

“In any case where any individual committed a crime as a 17-year-old, the Parole Board will take into consideration the fact that a teenager’s behavioral and cognitive abilities were not fully developed when he committed the crime,” said Alex Bastian, a special adviser to Gascón. “After more than three decades in prison, it is likely that the Parole Board has determined that this individual is not the same person as when he was 17.” 

So, essentially, age is an excuse to commit not one, but two murders. 

In response, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva sent Gascón a letter on Wednesday, informing him that sheriff’s detectives will attend parole hearings so long as Gascón blocks prosecutors from attending them. 

“I cannot understand why your office is barring prosecutors from attending parole hearings,” Villanueva said. “The purpose of the correspondence is to notify you, if prosecutors will no longer be allowed to attend parole hearings, the LASD will attend parole hearings in the absence of your prosecutors.”

“Victims should never, ever be alone,” he added. “They need to have someone with them in these adversarial settings where they have to come into contact with the same person who victimized them or killed their loved one, why on earth would we want them to be alone in this process?” 

“The fact that this person is only 50 years old and did 30 years on a double homicide, it just cries for the injustice of this,” he added. 

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