The union representing Los Angeles police decried what it argued was a state practice of releasing prisoners early. Pointing to the apparently premature release of a man who shot at officers last week, wounding one, the union called the state's unleashing of some felons a “fraud.”

On Saturday suspected drunk driver Javier Rueda led Los Angeles police on a pursuit and then opened fire on the cops. According to a letter from Chief Charlie Beck to state prisons secretary Matthew Cate, Reuda, a Vineland Boys gang member, was on parole after having served only two years of a ten-year sentence for weapons violations, car theft and evading police.

Beck described the confrontation:

At the termination of the pursuit, Mr. Rueda exited his car, already armed with a handgun, and fired at the officers. Several of the bullets Mr. Rueda fired hit the black and white, in the windshield and doors where the officers had taken refuge. The officers returned fire. Mr. Rueda was wounded and taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. His two loaded semiautomatic handguns were recovered at the scene.

On Thursday afternoon the leader of the union, Los Angeles Police Protective League president Paul M. Webber, criticized the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for allegedly failing to consider Rueda's gang membership when weighing whether he should have been released early:

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's refusal to consider a prisoner's street gang membership in the community when classifying prisoners for release, underscores that their new classification system is a fraud and dismissive of public safety. It is being used for the purpose of emptying prisons of inmates – regardless of whether they're dangerous or not – all in the interest of saving a few dollars.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and prisons chief Cate have described the “non-revocable parole” plan as a streamlining measure that will indeed save taxpayers money. As many as 6,500 releases were expected to happen under the “parole reform,” but Schwarzenegger said earlier this year that, “There is no prison releases at all” under the program.

But, as last week's shootout with the LAPD demonstrates, some bad people are being put back on the streets. Beck wants an explanation: “I am requesting that your agency assist us in evaluating this case to determine how he was granted early release and then transferred to Non-Revocable Parole,” he wrote.

LA Weekly