You may have heard that California's prisons are quite crowded. Well, now some folks are sounding alarm bells around last week's slaying of Carlos Nava, the three-year-old who was tragically shot in East Oakland, which perhaps could have been prevented had the two men responsible not been freed on plea deals.
Two adult men were also wounded in the shooting on Monday, August 8, which happened in the middle of the day, at 1:12 p.m. at 65th Avenue and International Boulevard. Three-year-old Nava was the only one fatally wounded. The shooting is thought to have been gang-related, but Carlos' family had no relation to the two targets.
26-year-old Lawrence Denard, the alleged shooter, and accomplice Willie Torrence both had violent criminal records, and both had served suspended jail sentences, shortened sentences, and probation over the last seven years, generally as a result of plea bargains. The Tribune talks to Laurie Levenson, a criminal law professor in Los Angeles who says "We can't afford not to plea bargain. If we don't plea bargain, we would only be able to handle a fraction of the cases." But she admits that every bargain is a gamble, and that putting violent criminals back on the street without a trial is a risk that the system often has to take. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are currently settled by plea bargain in California.
But even if these two guys had served longer sentences, who's to say they wouldn't still have been back on the street doing the same stuff?