An ex-gang member and convicted mass shooter, with a criminal record, was released by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) after serving only eight years of his life sentence. Subsequently, he secured a new position in the California State Capitol.
A Los Angeles Times article attempted to soften the narrative around violent offender Jarad Nava by attributing his crimes to a challenging childhood. The piece referenced Newsom to argue that Nava had genuinely reformed.
Before joining a state senate committee as an assistant, Nava had been convicted in 2014 for four counts of attempted murder linked to a gang-related shootout.
As a member of the Pomona Don’t Care Krew street gang, Nava’s criminal record evolved from minor offenses to violent assaults during his teenage years.
“Nava said he doesn’t remember much of what happened when the white truck he was riding in swerved into the opposite lane and pulled alongside a Lexus sedan carrying what he thought were his enemies,” Times staff writer Hannah Wiley wrote.
Whether Nava knew that the car carried his rivals or not, the outcomes were still catastrophic.
Nava fired multiple shots into the car, which was transporting 16-year-old Yesenia Castro, her 15-year-old sister Marlene Castro, 25-year-old Jessila Suarez, and 17-year-old Marlyn Reyes, who was nine months pregnant.
The sisters had a brother in the enemy gang, and the other two young women were reportedly dating other gang members.
Nava was “high and drunk,” so he “doesn’t remember telling the four, according to court records, they were ‘gonna die today,’” the Times noted.
While no fatalities occurred, Yesenia continues to be paralyzed in a wheelchair because one of the bullets severed her spinal cord, and she remains in this condition to this day.
But, Wiley says, Nava was only 17 at the time and had a tumultuous upbringing.
The article wrote a detailed account of Nava’s childhood, describing how he was ‘born to a struggling 19-year-old mom and absent dad’ and had “no stability.”
“In order to protect myself, I felt like the more I perpetrated violence on others, the safer I would be,” the offender told the publication.
Nava also expressed his indignance at being punished at the time, telling a detective, “Attempted murder? That’s life?”
He rejected a plea deal offering a 30-year prison sentence and chose to face trial as an adult. In the trial, he received a sentence of 162 years in prison, with 40 years to life for each attempted murder charge and an additional two years for firearm possession.
Nevertheless, in March 2020, Newsom reduced Nava’s sentence to only 10 years to life, following advocacy from a progressive criminal justice reform organization pushing for his release.
“Nava walked free from California State Prison Solano more than 150 years early on Dec. 22, 2020,” the Times reported.
In a documentary about the case, Yesenia, his paralyzed victim, expressed the opinion that he should have served a long sentence.
“This act of clemency for Mr. Nava does not minimize or forgive his conduct or the harm it caused,” Newsom wrote at the time. “It does recognize the work he has done since to transform himself.”
Currently, Nava works for the Senate Public Safety Committee, ironically tasked with “modifying the criminal justice system in California to focus on rehabilitation instead of lengthy prison terms.”
Newsom went on to share how he reportedly shed tears over Nava’s apparent transformation, despite the fact that he left a group of women with profound mental and physical scars.
“I came back and started crying in the office. To read a report about somebody, to see a ridiculous overcharging, to consider his age in relationship to that crime, to take a risk on a commutation … and then to see him all dressed up, so proud that he has a job. And I remember that meeting because he kept talking about how he felt a sense of responsibility not to screw up. Not for himself, but for others,” Newsom said.
Nava’s victims chose not to provide their input for the soft-focus article, which concluded with the statement, “Either way, in the California Capitol, Jarad Nava is finally home.”
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