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Pre-sentencing credits and reentry program allowed convicted DUI driver to be released from prison early

Gianna Brencola.jpg
Posted at 6:44 PM, May 03, 2022

A Los Osos woman convicted of driving drunk and hitting and killing a bicyclist in San Luis Obispo in 2017 is back behind bars, charged with another DUI in Morro Bay back in October.

Gianna Brencola was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2018 for the death of Cal Poly student Kennedy Love, but she was released from prison in 2019.

So how did she end up back on the street after such a short time?

“When someone is sentenced, it doesn't mean they're going to serve the time that we're told they will,” said San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), they admitted Brencola on June 1, 2018.

“Under the new law, which gave her 50 percent credit, she should have done at least three-and-a-half years in state prison to serve half of the seven years, but she only served a little over two years,” said Dow.

After accruing 464 days of pre-sentencing credits, Brencola was admitted to the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program on December 18, 2019.

She was discharged from parole on March 16, 2021.

“A judge determined it should be seven years and now we have individuals in another department deciding when it's safe to release someone,” said Dow.

According to prosecutors, Brencola would once again get behind the wheel while intoxicated in October 2021, hitting several parked cars with a BAC of 0.32.

“Our system needs to have a close examination about why people are being let out of prison early for very serious offenses, such as killing someone else with a vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and fleeing the scene,” said Dow. “I would be an advocate for sending that back to a court and letting a judge make a decision after hearing evidence of what the person has done.”

The decision to release inmates prior to their completed sentencing has been a topic of interest for district attorneys.

“Forty-four elected district attorneys and I have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections for what we believe is unlawfully awarding credits for early release of tens of thousands of people in state prison,” said Dow. “Sacramento is making these changes. They're letting people out early without individuals such as victims in our community having a chance to be heard, and better yet, without a judge making that decision.”

KSBY reached out to CDCR regarding the lawsuit challenging the early release of inmates, but the CDCR declined to comment on the topic.