SLO County district attorney clashes with governor’s office

District Attorney Dan Dow


San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow chastised the governor’s office on Friday for announcing the release of an inmate serving 50 years to life in prison for multiple violent crimes without first informing the victims.

Less than 30 minutes before announcing the medical reprieve of Tracey Pabon, Governor Gavin Newsom’s office asked Dow to help locate Pabon’s victims for notification purposes, according to the email request. If appropriate housing is found, Pabon will be need electronic monitoring after his release.

“If you have contact information for victims, we would be grateful if you could share this information with them or put us in contact,” the email says.

In 1994, Pabon was sentenced to 50-years-to-life for two counts of robbery as a third strike. Pabon had two previous convictions for serious or violent crimes.

“What possible urgency is there for you to announce this clemency at 4 p.m. on a Friday without notifying the victim and their family?” Dow asked in his response to Newsom’s office. “Our criminal and victim justice system has failed victims for too long and actions such as yours today are another prime example of putting offenders ahead of victims.”

In his email to Governor Newson, Dow asks for a prompt reply.

“I look forward to your prompt reply with a compelling explanation for why you neglected to notify me or attempt to make contact with the victim prior to making such a public announcement,” Dow wrote.

Earlier this month, Dow joined 43 district attorneys in filing a lawsuit challenging the early release of 76,000 prison inmates. While claiming an emergency, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the new rules, which fall in line with Governor Newsom’s budget summary.

The district attorneys are asking the court to prohibit the awarding of additional conduct credits that facilitate these early releases by as much as 50%.

“It is time for our governor and all other officials in our California legal system to start respecting victims’ rights,” Dow said. “Victims deserve the courtesy of contact and an opportunity to be heard before action is taken to release an offender early or taking other action that may affect the victims.”