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The People v. Manuel Miramontes Cruz

July 3, 2012


APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Merced County. Frank Dougherty, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. CRM011987)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Detjen, J.



On April 4, 2011, the Governor approved the "2011 Realignment Legislation addressing public safety" (Stats. 2011, ch. 15, § 1) which, together with subsequent related legislation, significantly changed the sentencing and supervision of persons convicted of felony offenses.*fn1 The sentencing changes made by the Act apply, by its express terms, "prospectively to any person sentenced on or after October 1, 2011." (Pen. Code, § 1170, subd. (h)(6).*fn2 ) The question raised on appeal is whether a defendant, who was sentenced before October 1, 2011, but whose conviction is not yet final on appeal, is entitled to be resentenced under the Act's provisions, specifically subdivision (h) of section 1170. We conclude the answer is no. The sentencing changes made by the Act apply only to persons sentenced on or after October 1, 2011, and such prospective-only application does not violate equal protection.*fn3


On March 25, 2011, a jury convicted defendant Manuel Miramontes Cruz, Jr., of transporting methamphetamine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379, subd. (a); count 1), and possessing methamphetamine for sale (id., § 11378; count 2).*fn4 Two prior narcotic conviction allegations (Health & Saf. Code, § 11370.2, subd. (c)) were stricken upon the prosecutor's motion, in return for defendant's agreement to immediate sentencing. Defendant was sentenced to state prison for a total unstayed term of four years and ordered to pay a restitution fine. A parole revocation restitution fine (§ 1202.45) was stayed pending successful completion of parole.


The Act added section 17.5 to the Penal Code. (Stats. 2011, ch. 15, § 229.) That statute provides:

"(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

"(1) The Legislature reaffirms its commitment to reducing recidivism among criminal offenders.

"(2) Despite the dramatic increase in corrections spending over the past two decades, national reincarceration rates for people released from prison remain unchanged or have worsened. National data show that about 40 percent of released individuals are reincarcerated within three years. In California, the recidivism rate for persons who have served time in prison is even greater than the national average.

"(3) Criminal justice policies that rely on building and operating more prisons to address community safety concerns are not sustainable, and will not result in improved public safety.

"(4) California must reinvest its criminal justice resources to support community-based corrections programs and evidence-based practices that will achieve improved public safety returns on this state's substantial investment in its criminal justice system.

"(5) Realigning low-level felony offenders who do not have prior convictions for serious, violent, or sex offenses to locally run community-based corrections programs, which are strengthened through community-based punishment, evidence-based practices, improved supervision strategies, and enhanced secured capacity, will improve public safety outcomes among adult felons and facilitate their reintegration back into society.

"(6) Community-based corrections programs require a partnership between local public safety entities and the county to provide and expand the use of community-based punishment for low-level offender populations. Each county's Local Community Corrections Partnership, as established in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 1230, should play a critical role in developing programs and ensuring appropriate outcomes for low-level offenders.

"(7) Fiscal policy and correctional practices should align to promote a justice reinvestment strategy that fits each county. 'Justice reinvestment' is a data-driven approach to reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies designed to increase public safety. The purpose of justice reinvestment is to manage and allocate criminal justice populations more cost-effectively, generating savings that can be reinvested in evidence-based strategies that increase public safety while holding offenders accountable.

"(8) 'Community-based punishment' means correctional sanctions and programming encompassing a range of custodial and non-custodial responses to criminal or noncompliant offender activity. Community-based punishment may be provided by local public safety entities directly or through community-based public or private ...

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