By Robert Lewis and Sam Stanton
One of the inmates the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department released early as part of an effort to reduce the state's prison population was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of attempted rape, less than 24 hours after getting out of jail, The Bee has learned.
Kevin Eugene Peterson got out of jail Monday night after serving about two months on a four-month sentence for violating probation on a prior conviction. Peterson was arrested 12 hours later, around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, on suspicion of an attempted rape involving a female counselor at the 1300 block of North C Street, a Sacramento Police Department spokesman said. He was booked into the Sacramento County jail at 3:21 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of attempted rape, sexual battery, false imprisonment and violating the terms of his probation.
"Our greatest fear has occurred almost immediately after the early release of these inmates," said Christine Ward of the Crime Victims Action Alliance. "We are certain that we will see more of this as more inmates are released from jails and prisons."
Peterson has a criminal history including a 2008 conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to a year in jail and five years probation. On Dec. 2, he was sentenced to four months for violating the terms of his probation, according to court documents.
Traditionally inmates who exhibit good behavior while in custody are eligible to be released after serving two-thirds of their sentence. A law the Legislature passed late last year requires county jails to release inmates on good behavior after serving half the sentence, a change of about two months for most sentenced to a year.
Sheriff John McGinness on Tuesday said only nonviolent inmates jailed on misdemeanors would be eligible for early release. Peterson was convicted for assault with a deadly weapon in 2008. His most recent stint in jail, however, was for a probation violation.
"The probation violation was nonviolent," McGinness said.
Peterson got out 16 days early as a result of the new law. McGinness said he won't defend the policy but that 16 days likely did not make a difference in Peterson's behavior.
"What he is alleged to have done yesterday, he conceivably would have done 16 days later," McGinness said.
But Kevin Mickelson, president of the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff's Association, said the episode calls into question the notion that violent prisoners won't be getting out early,
"The state Legislature has duped the citizens of California into believing they've released only nonviolent offenders back into the communities," Mickelson said. "That is simply not true."
Call The Bee's Robert Lewis, (916) 321-1061.