Friday, March 31, 2023

Rahsaan Thomas of ‘Ear Hustle’ released from prison a year after commutation from Newsom

Rahsaan Thomas of 'Ear Hustle' released from prison a year after commutation from Newsom

Rahsaan Thomas was launched from San Quentin State Prison on Wednesday, greater than 12 months after he was granted a commutation from Gov. Gavin Newsom for his rehabilitation behind bars, together with his work for the Pulitzer Prize-nominated “Ear Hustle” podcast.

Thomas’ supporters had advocated for his launch for years. His departure from San Quentin got here hours after the Times featured Thomas in a published report about dozens of individuals remaining in jail regardless of receiving mercy from the governor.

Thomas was amongst 123 folks Newsom has granted commutations, or reductions of sentences, since he turned governor in 2019. But as of January, a 3rd of these folks remained behind bars — in some circumstances years after the governor’s suggestions, in keeping with information from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

That’s due largely to Newsom’s determination to defer to the parole board within the overwhelming majority of his commutations as an alternative of utilizing his clemency energy to free them unilaterally.

Thomas’ sentence was commuted by the governor in January 2022 and he was granted parole by the board in August, however as of Tuesday remained in San Quentin State Prison.

Thomas, 52, was sentenced to 55 years and 6 months to life for a second-degree homicide conviction and different prices after he fatally shot somebody and injured one other throughout a drug deal in 2000, according to clemency documents.

In his commutation, Newsom praised Thomas for finishing school programs and an array of self-help programming saying he has “dedicated himself to his rehabilitation.” Thomas had obtained dozens of suggestions for clemency, together with extensive help from followers of his journalism covering prison life.

In interviews with The Times in early January, Thomas mentioned he was grateful to each the governor and the parole board and that the method helped him to heal and mirror on his previous. But he additionally criticized the prolonged course of, saying that “every day matters.”

Even for individuals who are granted parole, launch shouldn’t be fast. There is a overview interval of as much as 150 days following a parole board listening to, which permits choices to be overseen by the board’s authorized crew and the governor earlier than they’re finalized.

Thomas mentioned he and his household had been struggling not realizing when he could be launched.

“I can’t curse a blessing,” Thomas mentioned from jail in January. “My one wish is that this process, if you get a commutation, it should be streamlined. Really, it should be streamlined for everybody. … If you decided it’s safe to let me go, why drag it out?”

Thomas couldn’t be reached for an announcement on Wednesday, however a spokesperson for “Ear Hustle” mentioned they “couldn’t be happier” about his launch and referred to as him “an important voice.”

“The ‘Ear Hustle’ team looks forward to working with Rahsaan on the outside to keep bringing audiences stories about life during and after incarceration,” a spokesperson mentioned. “This is a special moment. We’re grateful to our listeners for their extraordinary support.”

A fundraiser had collected practically $10,000 as of Wednesday from 137 donors to help Thomas post-release.

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