For 1976 California school bus hijacker, Parole recommended

With the support of two victims, the parole recommendation for Friday's last of three men convicted for hijacking a schoolbus full of children in 1976 and holding them and the driver for $5,000,000 ransom was made.

For 1976 California school bus hijacker, Parole recommended

Frederick Woods, 70 years old, was deemed safe by parole commissioners after he had been denied parole 17 times.

Governor will continue to consider the decision of Commissioner Patricia Cassady, and Deputy Commissioner Keith Stanton. Gavin Newsom can still consider it, but the governor cannot block it since it isn't a murder conviction. The governor could not refer the decision to all the Board of Parole Hearings, for review.

Governor William Newsom was the father of state Judge William Newsom. He served on an appeals panel that reduced the life sentences for the men in order to allow them parole. He advocated for their release after he retired in 2011, noting that none of the kidnappers had been seriously injured.

Woods' accomplices, James Schoenfeld and Richard Schoenfeld, were already released. Richard was released by an appeals court in 2012. Jerry Brown paroled James on May 15, 2015.

They were all from wealthy San Francisco Bay Area families and kidnapped 26 children, their bus driver, and 26 others near Chowchilla. It is about 125 miles (201 km) southeast of San Francisco.

The children were aged 5-14 years old and their bus driver in an east San Francisco bunker. They were able to dig out their bodies more than a day after the accident.

At Friday's parole hearing, Woods offered an apology for his crime.

Woods stated, "I have empathy for the victims that I didn't have before." "I have had a character shift since then."

He added, "I was 24 years of age." "Now, I understand the trauma and terror I created. This heinous act is my full responsibility."

California law requires parole commissioners in California to give more weight to parolees who were younger when they committed the crime and to parolees who have already served long sentences.

"This individual has shown how dangerous he can be. After the decision, Madera County District Attorney Sally Moreno stated that he had ruined the lives and futures of many of these children .

Given the severity of the crime, she thinks Newsom might be open to review by the full parole boards.

Moreno stated that "he's not someone who should go free." "He has shown the ability to commit this type of crime...to mastermind or execute something like this."

Newsom's office stated that Newsom "carefully reviews parole decisions to decide whether a parole grant would be consistent with public safety."

Woods and Schoenfelds had been planning their crime for over a year. They wanted $5 million ransom to the state Board of Education.

James Schoenfeld told parole officers once that he envied friends with "his-and-hers" Ferraris. Woods stated during an earlier parole hearing, however, that he "got greedy."

Woods stated in 2012 that he did not need the money. Both those supporting and opposing his parole Friday referred to Woods' relative wealth.

Larry Park, a survivor who supported Woods' freedom along with Rebecca Reynolds Dailey, said that "I believe that you have served enough time" for the crime. Park said that he was concerned about Woods' addiction to money and urged him to seek treatment.

Jennifer Brown Hyde was one of the opponents to Woods parole. She said that he has not made full amends for his crime, and is "still a millionaire."

She said, "He could've done more." "Even the settlement that was paid to some survivors wasn't enough. It was sufficient to pay for therapy, but not enough to purchase a house.

Matthew Medrano was the son of Jodi Shefington Medrano. He sobbed many times as he recalled how his mother changed from being an outgoing, loving survivor to becoming a person who suffered from depression and dark thoughts before she died.

Woods parole was also opposed by survivors Lynda Carrrejo, Laura Yazzi Fanning, and Carol Marshall, mother to survivor Michael Marshall. They all testified about the long-term damage caused by the kidnapping. Marshall said that it affected whole families.

Madera County prosecutors stated that Woods' infractions during discipline in prison indicated that he hadn't yet learned how to follow the rules.

Woods and Dominique Banos, his lawyer, stressed that he has a clean record of discipline since October 2019, his last parole hearing.

Woods and his lawyer were at the California Men's Colony prison San Luis Obispo while others were away from the area because of the coronavirus epidemic.


 

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