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Voters' CA Law Changes Allowed Early Sacramento Suspect Release

A suspect arrested in connection with last weekend’s mass shooting outside bars in Sacramento served less than half of a 10-year prison sentence because of voter-approved changes to state law that lessened the punishment for his felony convictions and provided a chance for earlier release, reports the Associated Press.

Smiley Allen Martin was freed in February after serving time for punching a girlfriend, dragging her from her home by her hair and whipping her with a belt. Those count as nonviolent offenses under California law, which considers only about two dozen crimes to be violent felonies, such as murder, rape, arson and kidnapping.

Martin, 27, was arrested on suspicion of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun. He is among the 12 people wounded during Sunday’s shooting, which killed six others.


Police have said the violence was a shootout between rival gangs in which at least five people fired weapons, including Martin’s brother, Dandrae Martin, who also was arrested. No one has yet been charged with homicide. Smiley Martin typically would have remained behind bars until at least May after serving a minimum of half his time for his previous arrest in 2017. Prison officials evidently used a very expansive approach to applying lockup time credits to his sentence, said Gregory Totten of the California District Attorneys Association and a former Ventura County district attorney. “They’ve been given very broad authority to ... release folks and to give them additional credit and all kinds of considerations for purposes of reducing the length of sentence that somebody serves,” Totten said. Proposition 57, a 2016 ballot measure, aimed to give most of the state’s felons a chance of earlier release.

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