Alleged Oakland gang member runs out of luck after 18 chances

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California’s soft-on-crime policies were on full display in a federal courtroom earlier this month when a reputed Oakland gang member was handed a 33-month sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Thanks to the state’s obsession with keeping inmates behind bars for as short a time as possible, the federal sentence of just under three years will likely result in more time served than the 15-year prison term imposed on Zayonta Casmire by the state of California back in 2016 on charges of conspiracy to commit attempted murder.

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Casmire was paroled in 2019 from a 15-year state prison term for conspiracy to commit attempted murder. From his release date to the June arrest, he racked up 18 parole violations, prosecutors said in court records.
Casmire was part of a major 2013 prosecution targeting an Oakland-based gang, and in 2016 pleaded no contest to the conspiracy charge in exchange for the 15-year prison term. The case was based on a wiretap that allegedly captured plots to murder rivals by some of the 17 co-defendants.
A major prosecution that resulted in a relatively minor amount of time behind bars. Not only did Casmire serve less than four years of a 15-year sentence, he repeatedly violated the terms of his parole once he was let loose early; apparently without any consequence… at least until he was pulled over for a traffic stop last year.
California lawmakers are expected to approve legislation this session that would make it a crime for lawful gun owners who possess a valid carry license to exercise their right to bear arms in a host of publicly accessible places, and we’re probably going to see a half-doze other anti-2A bills signed into law by Gavin Newsom before the year is through. Meanwhile someone allegedly caught on a wiretap talking about killing gang rivals serves less than a third of his sentence, disregards the terms of his probation on eighteen different occasions over a three-year period, and manages to avoid being sent back to prison each and every single time.
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Were it not for the fact that prosecutors kicked this case up to the U.S. Attorney’s office for federal charges, Casmire would almost certainly be looking at another plea bargain and his 19th slap on the wrist. Even in federal court Casmire managed to catch a break. While his attorneys sought a 24-month sentence prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Casmire to 40-months in prison; far less than the potential ten year term. The judge’s decision to give Casmire 33-months behind bars is another lucky break for him but he’ll at least have to serve the vast majority of his sentence before he’s eligible for early release, unlike his California sentences.
I wish I could say that Zayonta Cashmire’s experience in the criminal justice system is the exception and not the rule, but that’s not the case whether we’re talking about California or the court system in general. The vast majority of criminal cases result in plea deals, and while they can be an appropriate tool in some cases they can also be easily abused; leading to both overcharging as well as allowing serious offenders to escape real consequences for their crimes. California lawmakers’ obsession with treating violent criminals with more compassion and care than their victims has definitely made the problem worse, however, and unfortunately things aren’t going to get better until voters wise up. Given the lopsided majorities for Democrats in the state, I’m not holding my breath about that happening anytime soon.
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