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California State Prisoner Wins $21,800 for 250 Days Excess Incarceration

On July 5, 2006, a jury awarded $21,800 to a California state prisoner after the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) miscalculated his good time/work time credits on his twelve year sentence.

Jorge Gallegos, a Mexican national, was sentenced to state prison in September 1995. With CDCR?s then-current credit earning scheme, he should have been released on November 11, 2001. But CDCR erroneously applied a new credit-earning scheme, which resulted in his not being timely released. Responding to Gallegos? attorney?s July 2002 letter, CDCR conceded one month later that Gallegos had been over-detained by 250 days, and released him three days thereafter.

Gallegos sued in state court, claiming false imprisonment and violation of his civil rights under California?s constitution. CDCR countered that he had not first exhausted his administrative remedies by filing a grievance. The defense?s motion for non-suit on the civil rights claims was therefore granted, but the false imprisonment claim was tried to a jury.

Back in Mexico after his release, Gallegos obtained a low-paying job. He sought lost wages for the 250 day period and $250,000 for emotional distress from the over-incarceration. The jury found he had been falsely imprisoned, and awarded him $1,800 for lost wages plus $20,000 for emotional distress. Gallegos was represented by the Oakland, California Law Offices of Robert Beles. See: Gallegos v. California, Alameda County Superior Court, Case No. RG03109491.

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Related legal case

Gallegos v. California