First Criminal Resentenced In Contra Costa County Under New State Law

May 3, 2021 18:25 pm · 64 comments

A prisoner convicted in 2005 for an Orinda burglary is the first person in Contra Costa County to have their sentence reduced under a 2019 state law allowing a district attorney to recommend a prisoner be resentenced.

Derric Craig Lewis, 61, was convicted of residential burglary and sentenced to 27 years in prison. That sentence was revised on April 16, when the Contra Costa County Superior Court reduced it to 17 years — the time he had already served.

In October 2004, Lewis took BART to Orinda where he entered a residence while two people were in the home. He stole a purse and a bike. He later said that he stole the property to purchase drugs to support his addiction.

At the time of the offense he was on probation after a number of felony convictions. In light of his prior offenses, he was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

In 2018, California enacted Assembly Bill 2942 to allow a district attorney who believed that a given sentence no longer served the interests of justice to ask the sentencing court to “recall” the sentence and resentence the prisoner as if he or she had never been sentenced.

The law allows for redressing excessive sentences, said Contra Cost County District Attorney Dianna Becton.

“Sentencing a man for 27 years for such an offense undermines our ability to hold the most violent accountable for crimes in our community,” Becton said. “The strain on the state prison and criminal justice system is immense from these failed policies of our past. To truly move forward, we must be open to correcting the wrongs of the past.”

For the People is an organization that works with district attorneys around the state to identify individuals who can safely be released from prison.

The group identifies a number of relevant factors, including the prisoner’s disciplinary record, his or her “record of rehabilitation,” and whether release would in any way endanger public safety. The prisoner’s readiness to re-enter society successfully is also highly relevant.

According to the organization, Lewis obtained a high school diploma in 2013 and thereafter an Associate of Arts degree, taking courses in business, sociology, English, math and psychology.

Bob May 3, 2021 at 6:27 PM

And what do his victims get?

Rob May 3, 2021 at 7:25 PM

He stole a bike and a purse, served 17 years, what more do you want?

Noj May 3, 2021 at 8:39 PM

“At the time of the offense he was on probation after a number of felony convictions.”

He was a “three striker” Rob.
Keep up, OK?

Sick of it May 3, 2021 at 9:02 PM

Rob. He entered a house with two residents home and in it. It could have ended really bad

Oh, please May 3, 2021 at 9:08 PM

Rob- this was NOT his first crime. What are you talking about?

Matt May 3, 2021 at 9:29 PM

The United States incarnates more people than any other country in the world with an incarnation rate of 655 to every 100,000. It is far less expensive for our country to rehabilitate many, if not most, of these individuals than to house them in prisons.

Fred May 4, 2021 at 6:43 AM

Matt – it’s “incarceration”……. not “incarnation.”

Huge difference!

Chicken Little May 4, 2021 at 7:42 AM

I hear we incarcerate quite a few people, too.

Matt May 4, 2021 at 11:22 AM

Thanks Fred, I fell victim to auto fill spell check and lack of proof reading.

I’m well aware of the difference between incarnate and incarcerate.

Plinko May 4, 2021 at 12:08 PM

Lol! Incarnates! Lol!

Chicken Little May 3, 2021 at 6:32 PM

I can’t wait to see where this leads. This is only the beginning.

AnimalLover May 3, 2021 at 7:41 PM

Where will this lead? It will make liberals happy to see their friends and family out of prison and back on the streets. Everyone deserves a second chance. What about the victims? Only someone with White Privilege would care.

Matt May 4, 2021 at 11:29 AM

That is a very bias and incorrect statement. Show me some data to prove people who identify themselves as liberal in their political beliefs are incarcerated at a higher rate then any other political affiliation.

AnimalLover May 4, 2021 at 12:31 PM

Thank you for pointing that out.
I’ve been watching CNN and didn’t realize that bias and incorrect statements matter and that only people that are entitled to make statements are those that agree with you.
Here are more statements that don’t matter:

Original G May 3, 2021 at 7:01 PM

More proof, state Prisons where CA has historically hidden it’s educational failures. There are still roughly 46,000 high school dropouts per year in CA.

These days almost seems like criminals to be charged with a Felony
just about have to kill someone.

Gititogether May 3, 2021 at 7:15 PM

The only mistake in the past was the election of this deranged bozo

anon May 4, 2021 at 11:24 AM

Did Trump sign an order that got 11,000 people fired or let in hundreds of thousands of illegals that will hurt Americans when it comes to jobs, bring in drugs & do crimes to your daughters ??
check yourself when it comes to Bozo’s– time will prove you way wrong

Gone May 4, 2021 at 12:32 PM

Bobohead, China Joe will only have one book in his library titled how to destroy the best country in the world in 24 hours. China Joe is a human trafficker.

Patriot May 3, 2021 at 7:17 PM

The formula is simple.

More punishment = less crime.

Less punishment = more crime.

Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Chris May 3, 2021 at 7:23 PM

Notice how the article failed to mention his employment status. So he took a few classes…big deal. Probably on public assistance. Many will return to their old ways. For those that get the stuff together-congrats.

Aunt Barbara May 3, 2021 at 10:50 PM

Becton said. “The strain on the state prison and criminal justice system is immense from these failed policies of our past. To truly move forward, we must be open to correcting the wrongs of the past.”

The strains on our Cities and economy is immense from letting these career criminals out and is affecting all of us.. You are not moving forward Ms. Becton, you are moving backwards and putting all our lives in danger and that of future generations.

Concord74 May 4, 2021 at 9:16 AM

Barbara: You must consider the race and ethnicity of the perp and the DA. He is a 3-striker but he is not being held to that – WHY?

Finchicus Attic May 3, 2021 at 7:29 PM

Committing residential burglary is one crime. Committing residential burglary while on probation is a different crime. The 27 year sentence was not for the simple act residential burglary, and the DA knows it. What the DA is counting on is that we don’t.

dbcoop May 3, 2021 at 7:35 PM

In this particular case it sounds like its time for him to be released- hes done enough time for a couple burglaries and people do mature and change for the better

Oh, please May 3, 2021 at 9:10 PM

Actually, that is false. People only become more like themselves as they age. It is a rare person who actually changes. And even rarer, for the better.

Dawg May 3, 2021 at 10:28 PM

@ dbcoop–People mature, but addicts are still addicts. Unless he got help for his addiction while he was in prison, and keeps up with the help when he’s out, he will return to his old habit and start using drugs again. When he does, he will go back to his old ways of supporting his habit.

Pyrrhus May 4, 2021 at 8:50 AM

Sounds to me like we need to focus on rehabilitation in our prison system and not punishment. What’s the point of punishing a criminal and then just releasing them into the world? They have no skills and nobody wants to hire them because of their criminal past. What do you think is going to happen?

Jimmy May 3, 2021 at 7:41 PM

So Becton, just when do you plan to start holding the violent ones accountable?
Why do you think the police are all quitting or retiring?
One reason is that they arrest a criminal and you turn them loose. Sounds like a “systemic ” problem to me.

remember May 3, 2021 at 7:47 PM

can’t for murder, assault and rape to be “revisited”

anything to get more Democrat voters


Nick May 3, 2021 at 7:48 PM

The penalties are not stiff enough…that’s why there are so many repeat offenders. Very violent criminals should never be allowed to come out (if they don’t get executed).

Kelka May 3, 2021 at 8:08 PM

Why do new rules and laws seem to always favor criminals? It feels like the mantra is: when in doubt, favor the lowest common denominator. It’s important to help those who need help. The caveat is that those who need help also need to be able to help themselves.

Ricardoh May 3, 2021 at 8:20 PM

I wouldn’t fight that. He seems to have gotten educated. May have learned not to pick occupied houses to burgle. Seventeen years seems a little harsh let alone 27. Maybe we are not hearing the whole story. Anyway doubt they will post stories like this of the violent ones. They will be released unreported.

Concord74 May 4, 2021 at 9:22 AM

Educated?? Courses in Psychology and Sociology are real brain tasking! If he was a hard drug user chances will be reversion to old habits not to mention fried brain cells!

Kentucky Derby May 3, 2021 at 8:31 PM

I remember this burglary. I also remember the couple in Montclair that were looking for him. His previous “multiple felonies” is the reason he got 27 years. I also remember reading about this in the Washington Post. If it hit the paper three thousand miles away — there’s a history. Unless he finds a well paying job, he’ll continue his life of crime. Even a good job won’t stop a career criminal.

tashaj May 4, 2021 at 7:49 AM

That was my first thought – OK, he’s out. He’s 61, with a lifetime drug habit that he likely ditched in jail. Also an Associate of Arts degree, zero work experience and zero marketable skills. Probably not much in terms of family support after all these years.

Unless he has a decently paying job lined up within this “For the people” organization, he has no means to support himself. So he’s going to be back on drugs and on the street in no time at all.

However harsh 17 years for a burglary may sound, the alternative promoted by Diane Becton as “restorative justice” is actually a never ending cycle of arrests and releases until the addict drops dead of an overdose. Or may be pneumonia or another infection acquired on the street. Is it really so much better?

Pyrrhus May 4, 2021 at 8:56 AM

Sounds to me like we have a problem with the system not the person. If we go by your logic. We should just keep all prisoners locked up for life. What’s the point of releasing them if they have no future outside of prison and will just go back to a life of crime. Really, this just shows that punishment does absolutely nothing to deter crime. You know what decreases recidivism? Rehabilitation. Study after study concurs that to be the case. Yet, America’s focus is on punishment and then we wonder why we have the largest prison population in the world. It is either Americans are more unlawful or our system is broken. It really says something about our nation when we make for profit prisons and are encouraged to keep the prisons full.

tashaj May 4, 2021 at 11:40 AM

What does incarceration have to do with punishment? Incarceration is simply the cheapest available option to keep certain people in a tightly controlled environment. Not so much as a punishment, but because that’s the only way they can function without harming themselves and/or others. And no amount of rehabilitation and reintegration can help.

Even in CA the total cost of incarceration (housing, security, food, healthcare, etc.) is ~$81K/year per inmate. For comparison, the total cost of permanent supportive housing is around $120K/year per resident. About a third of it is housing+food, another third is case management+administrative expenses and the last third is healthcare+emergency services.

You don’t like the present situation? Then you’re most welcome to contribute your own money and/or convince the wealthier residents of CA that they need to pony up about $30K/year per inmate. That’ll help moving those who need it into permanent supportive housing and reduce prison population.
Also it’s only fair that they contribute another $10K/year or so to the Victim Compensation Fund. I can’t see why an average taxpayer should be punished by having to pay $1000s in deductibles for broken-in cars and houses and stolen miscellany (on top of sky-high taxes and expensive insurance).

And it’s been known for a long time that it’s not the punishment itself that deters the crime – it’s the inevitability of punishment. About the worst you can do in terms of crime deterrence is that catch-and-release thing Diane Becton calls “restorative justice”.

Kentucky Derby May 4, 2021 at 11:41 AM

“Unfortunately, research has consistently shown that time spent in prison does not successfully rehabilitate most inmates, and the majority of criminals return to a life of crime almost immediately. Many argue that most prisoners will actually learn new and better ways to commit crimes while they are locked up with their fellow convicts. They can also make connections and become more deeply involved in the criminal world.”

The truth hurts. My logic is spot on, and backed by statistics. Your logic is non-existent. You can learn a trade, but a lot of employers won’t hire convicted felons. With the exception of a rare few, leopards don’t their spots. Our character is a learned behavior, and formed at a very early age. Career criminals do have a “profession.” They commit crimes for a living.

Nope! May 3, 2021 at 8:50 PM

The burglary of an occupied residence could have ended much differently at my house.

Original G May 3, 2021 at 9:03 PM

How many are incarcerated as result of their actions resulting from a lack of judgment due to underlying mental health problems ? How many know of Community Mental Health Act of 1963, signed into law by JFK ?

Law forced mental health treatment down onto local level, forced upon America by DEM controlled 88th congress. We see results almost daily when out in our communities, where our first responders are forced to deal with mentally ill repeatedly, until such time as their level of violence escalates into Felony charges. Used to be a felony sentence in excess of 367 days was served in state prison, that was until feckless DEM controlled CA legislature decided to make prison overcrowding not their problem. Forcing that overcrowding down onto the local level.

AB-109 changed law so sentenced Felons with multi year sentences serve their time at the local level and instantly everyone of CA’s 58 counties had a jail overcrowding problem. So of course they had to make it harder to charge criminals with Felonies, enter Prop 47.

Seeing a pattern here yet?
Isn’t it amazing how so many DEM “easier softer way” fixes end up,
causing larger problems for society ? It’s almost like they’re incapable of grasping possible long term problems their actions might cause. Then again they may just, not care ? ? ?

Sign from Above May 5, 2021 at 7:56 AM

You’re spot on G. Unfortunately you’re not going to change the opinions of the head in the sand group. The only time their opinion changes is when crime happens to them or someone they care about. It has to hit home. And, even then, it’s the fault of law enforcement or some other entity. Never the fault of their ignorant standpoint!

While the goal of the juvenile legal system is rehabilitation, that is not the case with the adult system. The adult system is one of punishment. This is because those that work in this area know that career criminals are not going to change. It’s only those that are distanced from this element that think criminals can be rehabilitated. They are who they are. No amount of wishful thinking is going to change that.

The Fearless Spectator May 3, 2021 at 9:54 PM

School is open in prison?

Old Creeker May 4, 2021 at 12:19 AM

Everyone please remember the name Diana Becton , the George Soros supported candidate, when she runs for re-election!

This is just one of her many bad decisions as District Attorney. 😡

Cali May 4, 2021 at 2:54 AM

So sick of people being so hateful and judge mental! People make mistakes in life people change! If it were my house he broke into I wouldn’t want the guy to serve his life almost In prison!

Old-school guy May 4, 2021 at 8:16 AM

Give him your address, and tell him when you will be away. See if he’s a changed man. BTW, judgmental is a compound word.

Cat'sMeow May 4, 2021 at 9:26 AM

I’m sick too Cali, of hate full and judge men tall peep pole.

This person will need a place to go once released.
And, he will likely need a bike and a purse.
And, you have a house where he can live his life out side of prison.
Problem solved.

FPN May 4, 2021 at 10:52 AM

Cali, But it was not your home. No one has the right to come into your home and take what they want. Keep him in jail and everyone is safe.

American Citizen May 4, 2021 at 11:11 AM

If he broke into my house when I was home, he would be leaving in a bodybag.

anon May 4, 2021 at 11:31 AM

“People make mistakes ”

are you kidding me ?? It was a deliberate act – notice he choose Orinda & not Richmond where they have guns in all houses & will fight back. You have no clue about felons & reality. on that’s right — you are a Dem & voted for her….

OverWhelmed May 4, 2021 at 6:45 AM

You mean that the system is now pampering convicted criminals? I mean come on, who is advocating for the victims? Their house was broken into by a person that was in jail for stealing. This has got to stop! Ca will not have anyone left except the criminals

Randy May 4, 2021 at 7:13 AM

… we gotta get these people out of office that are making these stupid decisions 🙁

Concord74 May 4, 2021 at 9:30 AM

Easier said than done!! This state is not only a “Sanctuary” status but will molly-coddle miscreants instead applying the law correctly! What happened to “use a weapon in committing a crime” should be consider a felony instead of a slap on the wrist with a wet noodle??

Smee May 4, 2021 at 8:49 AM

That sentence was way too long. On the other hand, I never understand why criminals always get a free college education, but the taxpayers have to work 3 jobs to afford their degree.

Sam Malone May 4, 2021 at 9:18 AM

This has gone beyond stupid. Citizens have to protect themselves now a days.

This is just as bad as the rumor that the city without talking to the neighbors near Newhall Park want to install showers for the homeless. It was on Nextdoor yesterday.

Really, they do not belong in stable neighborhoods, yes I said that. Most of these folks that I have dealt with do not want to play by the rules and have major issues as I do a lot of volunteer work. People in this area are experiencing mail theft and items stolen from their property on a daily basis, including auto theft. Near Concord Bart they allow homeless to have open fires in dry fields. Do you want your home to burn due to this recklessness?

Talk to your HOA and your city officials to be transparent as they are not. Time to clean house all over.

American Citizen May 4, 2021 at 11:09 AM

As a retired ALCO Paramedic you are 100% true. These are not civilized people and they have nothing to lose by breaking into and robbing your home to finance the purchase of drugs.

PO'd May 4, 2021 at 9:19 AM

Getting his life together, is he?

Strad May 4, 2021 at 9:22 AM
Original G May 4, 2021 at 9:43 AM

A little bit of additional info not in the sanitized press release,

Previous first degree burglary convictions in 1987, 1989 and 1995.
Receiving stolen property conviction 1993.
eastbaytimes 2005

Three strikes no longer in effect or does it just not mean what it originally was voted on, to send a clear message to career criminals ? ? ? ?

American Citizen May 4, 2021 at 11:07 AM

Disgusting. Enabling criminals…break into my house and it won’t end well for the intruder. Guaranteed.

Steve May 4, 2021 at 11:17 AM

First, take care of the drug problem then get these people into some kind of occupation that will contribute to society. So they do not drag us down.

Rolling Wheels May 4, 2021 at 2:11 PM

How many get out of jail free cards does one get, he will be back in, just a matter of time, you really cant shine poop, no matter how hard you try

RANDOM TASK May 4, 2021 at 3:49 PM

He stole a purse and a bike. He later said that he stole the property to purchase drugs to support his addiction.

wow thats amazing

the victims said they were good people
paid their taxes on time
raised good educated children
active in their community
here legally
and always voted democrat

well we see what that gets you from becton

she dont care

justice is a bias sword that takes your head and rewards the criminal

to paraphrase of course

ahhhh what a wonderful time to be a criminal

sounds a lot like that movie


only were living it now

babay dont fear the biden

gmann May 4, 2021 at 9:03 PM

“For the People is an organization that works with district attorneys around the state to identify individuals who can safely be released from prison.”

Logic May 6, 2021 at 6:58 AM

Why do we even have laws, if we are not holding people accountable? He should spend his entire time in the pen for his actions. No one forced him to commit a residential burglary to support his drug addiction. I’m sorry but you commit a crime you must do the time.

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