MADERA COUNTY — After less than three years behind bars, Kenneth Jackson, who was convicted in 2014 of setting dozens of fires in the Yosemite Lakes Park area, has been referred to the Board of Parole Hearings for a parole review.
Jackson, now 44, of Coarsegold, was convicted on May 1, 2014, of 21 counts of arson and 1 count of conspiracy for a string of fires during May and June of 2013, one of which destroyed a home. He was also convicted of one count each of resisting arrest and assault on a peace officer.
Jackson was sentenced to 30 years and 8 months in prison on Aug. 8, 2014.
Now, due to the passage of Proposition 57 in 2016, Jackson may be released, says District Attorney David Linn.
“They passed Prop 57 without having the wording in place or any guidelines,” says Linn. “They just wrote the guidelines about a month-and-a-half ago, and those guidelines limit this process to just one letter from the D.A.’s Office.”
When asked how Jackson could possibly be eligible for parole so soon, and how it came about that he would be coming before the Parole Board, Linn said, “all you have to do is ask. The way he was prosecuted allows him to apply for parole as a non-violent offender, having served the required time on one of the charges.”
Linn is asking anyone who was impacted or suffered damage due to the Yosemite Lakes Park arson fires for which Jackson has been convicted, to contact his office.
“We don’t even get to have a parole hearing to fight this,” says Linn. “In past cases, I was able to present witnesses and evidence during a hearing to stop something like this. Now, all I get to do is write a letter.”
Linn wants to include in that letter the stories of those who were affected by these fires and asks those people to contact his victim services specialist, Taguhi Bableyan, at (559) 675-7726 by July 28.
Linn says the California District Attorney’s Association has been fighting Proposition 57 since before the election in November 2016, and even sued the Governor’s Office.
“They sued because it wasn’t complete,” says Linn. “The wording wasn’t done. The rules were not set. It’s crazy.”
Alice Waterman, also of Coarsegold, was convicted during the same trial on six counts of arson and of conspiracy. She was sentenced to 10 years and 8 months. Both Jackson and Waterman were credited with time served behind bars while awaiting trial. Linn says he expects Waterman to be next to request a parole review.