First resentencing in county under AB 2942, for 2004 Orinda robbery conviction
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney
Last month, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office petitioned the court in support of Derric Lewis to be resentenced under Assembly Bill 2942 for his 2004 residential burglary. Honorable Judge Nancy Davis Stark ameliorated his original sentence of 27 years to 17 years with credit for time served. Lewis, who is now 61 years old, was released on a two-year grant of parole and will be supported with wrap-around services to ensure his re-entry is successful.
Lewis is the first individual in Contra Costa County resentenced under this change in the law. AB 2942 allows for a district attorney to review old sentences and determine if the sentence still serves the interest of justice and the community. Individuals eligible for relief under AB 2942 must demonstrate their ability to re-enter society successfully, including our office’s thorough evaluation of their rehabilitative efforts and disciplinary record while in custody.
The DA’s Office worked in collaboration with the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, the non-profit For the People, and the Public Defender’s Office on this petition for resentencing. Importantly, those impacted by Lewis’ burglary joined in consideration of the petition and agreed that with demonstrated change after 17 years of incarceration, Lewis had had earned the opportunity to be resentenced.
In October 2004, Lewis arrived in Orinda on a Bay Area Rapid Transit train. He then walked through a nearby neighborhood and entered a home, stealing a purse valued at $125. Two victims were inside the home when Lewis entered. Additionally, Lewis took a specialized bicycle, valued at $300, from a second victim’s shed located in the backyard of their home.
Lewis was on probation at the time he was arrested for this offense and had multiple felony convictions. These factors contributed to the judge sentencing Lewis to 27 years in state prison. This offense was his third serious felony.
District Attorney Diana Becton was in support of AB 2942 during the legislature’s 2019 consideration of the bill. The DA’s Office is one of a first offices working with For the People on eligible cases for potential resentencing where the original punishment is excessive. Santa Clara, Yolo and San Diego district attorneys have also resentenced an individual under AB 2942.
“We now have the option to seek redress for excessive sentences. I will use my authority under this important law to ensure those in state prison are there for the appropriate reasons. Sentencing a man for 27 years for such an offense undermines our ability to hold the most violent accountable for crimes in our community. 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,” stated DA Diana Becton.
“Having spent countless hours working to understand Mr. Lewis’ case, we witnessed his work towards rehabilitation,” said Hillary Blout, Founder and Executive Director of For The People. “Focusing on education helped set Mr. Lewis on a new path, and he has now obtained his GED, tutored others in prison, and completed a dozen college-level courses. With a strong education and family ties, Mr. Lewis returns home to his loving sister and son. But Mr. Lewis is just one of the many people in our prison who should be released. Hopefully other incarcerated people and their families will see this second chance on the horizon through the advent of prosecutor-initiated resentencing and AB 2942.”
“We are pleased to see that Mr. Lewis was successfully resentenced and reunited with his family. Mr. Lewis, who is 61 years old, spent the last 17 years of his life in prison. He earned his high school diploma, enrolled in college courses, and demonstrated exemplary behavior during his incarceration. Mr. Lewis’s resentencing illustrates that focusing on reintegrating people back into our community with substantial reentry resources is a more just approach than handing down excessive prison sentences,” said Robin Lipetzky, Contra Costa County Public Defender.
Case information: People v. Derric Craig Lewis, Docket 05-050238-5