News parole for 2nd Chowchilla kidnapper

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  1. dawg

    dawg In The Dog House Staff Member

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    Gov. Jerry Brown has allowed parole for the second of three men who kidnapped 26 children and their bus driver at gunpoint in the Madera County town of Chowchilla in 1976 and then hid them in an underground quarry.

    James Schoenfeld, 63, could be released from the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo within several days, officials said.

    In April, a panel of the state Parole of Board Hearings found Schoenfeld eligible for release from prison. Schoenfeld’s younger brother, Richard, was paroled in 2012. The third kidnapper, Fred Woods, has his next parole hearing scheduled this fall.

    Brown opted not to refer the case back to the full board for review.

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    Prosecutors from both Madera and Alameda counties and nine victims had testified before the board, arguing against Schoenfeld’s release. But three victims testified in support of parole, including one who had met with the inmate as part of a restorative-justice program arranged by the prison, said Schoenfeld’s lawyer, Scott Handleman.

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    If the crime were committed today, the culprits would never be released — the multiple ransom kidnappings would carry sentences of nearly 190 years, the parole board said in its decision in Richard Schoenfeld’s case. But the Schoenfeld brothers and Woods are covered by the laws in effect at the time of the offense.

    The kidnappers, who grew up in wealthy families on the Peninsula — the Schoenfelds in Atherton, Woods in Portola Valley — pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life in prison.

    They set up a roadblock, where they stopped the school bus from the San Joaquin Valley town of Chowchilla at gunpoint. With their faces covered in stocking masks, they transferred their captives to vans and drove about 100 miles northeast to Livermore, where they buried them in a moving van in a rock quarry and demanded $5 million ransom. The children ranged in age from 5 to 14.

    After 16 hours underground, the victims dug themselves out when their captors fell asleep. Richard Schoenfeld turned himself in eight days later. The other two kidnappers were captured less than a week after that.

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  2. crazypreacher

    crazypreacher Hey yo

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    Typical governor moonglow.