The California Board of Parole Hearings has denied parole to 50-year-old Alice Waterman, who has been serving time for arson in the Central California Women’s Facility near Chowchilla.
Waterman and her 44-year-old husband, Kenneth Allen Jackson, both of Coarsegold, set a series of fires in the Yosemite Lakes Park area in the summer of 2013. Jackson is serving a 30-year, 8-month sentence at Solano State Prison near Vacaville. Waterman was sentenced to 10 years and 8 months in prison.
Both were convicted of felonies not considered violent or serious, which opened parole and good behavior opportunities under Proposition 57. But the board found that “she was personally armed with a deadly weapon” (fire) and jeopardized the lives of fire personnel and homeowners, according to Madera County District Attorney David Linn, who described Prop. 57 as “a bad law.”
The state constitutional amendment and statute was approved by 64 percent of California voters in 2016. It incentivizes sustained good behavior and program involvement by inmates, and opens up parole consideration for some “nonviolent” offenders. According to the state’s Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Prop. 57 has enabled state prisons to avoid court-ordered inmate releases due to prison overpopulation.
Linn credited the denial of parole to numerous citizens who sent letters to his office to oppose the release of Waterman.
“The only way that Jackson and Waterman will get out early without serving their sentences is if they petition for release in the future,” said Linn, “or if their pending appeal before the Fifth Court of Appeals, based upon alleged constitutional violations and prosecutorial misconduct, is granted.”
Waterman and Jackson were convicted before Linn became district attorney.