Convicted killer Daniel Wozniak has been transferred out of San Quentin and to a lower security prison, angering family members of the two people he murdered and leading local prosecutors to reach out to other victims. killers who have been sentenced to death.
District Attorney Todd Spitzer, in July 28 letter to families of Orange County death row victims, warned that the prison’s “Sentenced Inmate Transfer Pilot Program” is open to any sentenced inmate who has no recent disciplinary problems, even those recently sentenced to death.
Wozniak was sentenced to death in 2016, six years after killing Samuel Herr and Juri “Julie” Kibuishi in an attempt to fund his marriage in 2010. Sam’s father, Steve Herr, said he learned of the change. Wozniak’s accommodation not by prison officials, but rather by an acquaintance of Wozniak who runs the blog “Daniel Wozniak is my friend”.
“It was a kick in the stomach,” said Steve Herr. “It would have been good for them to at least warn me… If I could, I would kill him myself.” But that won’t happen, so I want the harshest punishment possible.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials confirmed that Wozniak was transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison as part of the sentenced inmate transfer pilot program. CDCR spokesperson Terri Hardy also confirmed that all sentenced inmates are eligible for the voluntary program “unless they have pending charges, have been convicted of certain disciplinary offenses during past five years or are in restrictive accommodation for disciplinary reasons.
Prison officials said around 60 inmates are currently participating in the program. They describe it as a way for those who were previously incarcerated on death row to participate in rehabilitation and labor programs in order to compensate their victims or their families.
Herr wondered if families of victims like his would want sentenced inmates to get a change of scenery and more freedom in exchange for compensation.
“It’s like night and day, like going from Motel 6 to a Regent,” Herr said of Wozniak’s move from San Quentin to Salinas Valley Jail.
The OCDA office also criticized the program, with Spitzer writing in his letter of security concerns if “cop killers, multiple murderers and prison gang leaders” were placed in the general prison population.
Matt Murphy, a former deputy district attorney who has prosecuted Wozniak as well as other death penalty cases, questioned whether moving inmates sentenced without warning violated victims’ rights. Murphy said that in his experience, knowing that an inmate will spend the rest of their life on death row is important to the families of their victims.
“It makes sense to these families, the location, the restrictive setting, it all matters,” Murphy said. “We’re not talking about someone who stole a car stereo, we’re talking about a man who ruthlessly murdered two people so he could go on his honeymoon. The victims don’t want his money.
It is not known exactly how many additional privileges sentenced inmates involved in the program will receive in other prisons.
According to the prison authorities, the prisons to which sentenced prisoners can be transferred must always be level 3 or 4 establishments, both considered as maximum security. However, prison officials in an online description of the program note that if death row inmates are placed in solitary confinement, they may be reassessed when they move to other facilities to see if they can be accommodated. a cell with another detainee. .
The sentenced inmate transfer pilot program was part of Proposition 66, a 2016 initiative endorsed by California voters that aimed to speed up executions.
There are more than 700 inmates on death row in California, including more than 60 from Orange County. But no executions have taken place for over a decade.
In 2016, voters faced competing ballot measures, one that would have repealed the death penalty, the other that was supposed to speed up executions. The latter received the approval of the voters.
In 2016, Governor Newsom instituted the moratorium on executions, withdrawing the state’s lethal injection protocol and closing the actual execution chamber in San Quentin. But the death penalty is still part of state law, and actual death sentences have remained intact.
A review of inmate files showed several other sentenced inmates in Orange County were transferred from San Quentin to other prisons, but it was not immediately clear whether they were part of the pilot inmate transfer program. condemned.
Carlos Martinez – who killed an elderly couple in a burglary – and Alfredo Valencia – who stabbed a man to death in a burglary – are both now at the RJ Donovan Correctional Facility, a state prison near of San Diego, according to prison records. Victor Miranda-Guerero – who raped and killed a woman on a street in Huntington Beach – is now in Centinela State Prison in Imperial County.
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