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Early Release: And Now a Word From the Fact-Based Universe….

January 26th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Here’s a video of CDCR’s Secretary Matthew Cates’ Monday press conference in which he briefly explained the new programs that began this week, and answered questions about same. (You’ll hear my questions asked via the phone near the end.)

Those criticizing the program would do well to listen just so you’re operating from a fact-based position rather than responding to the rumor mongering and unfounded hysteria that seems to be running rife through the countryside at the moment.


UPDATE: A case in point: Tuesday afternoon I received a copy of the letter that Paul Weber, the president of the LAPPL sent to LA residents in which he wrote: ” …yesterday was also the same day that the state began its program to release over 6,500 prisoners from state prisons…”

NO, PAUL, IT WASN’T. Nothing of the kind happened. And, with all respect, if you don’t know that, you aren’t bothering to check the facts that are available for checking.

AND IF YOU DO KNOW IT, that statement of yours is deliberate and mendacious. Which is not okay. We expect better.

I just got off the phone 2 minutes ago with the CDCR’s Gordon Hinkle to find out if there was any crazed or pretzeled way that Weber’s statement could have any shred of truth behind it. There wasn’t.

So, what’s the deal? Facts no longer matter? If the falsehood gets you what you want, then what the heck, go for it?

Paul Weber’s letter is intended to get residents to pressure their city council members
to vote for money to hire more police officers. Hell, I’m for hiring more police officers. But, here’s the thing: I don’t need to be told an hysteria-promoting lie to in order to get me there. (When someone resorts to such tactics, one tends to distrust everything they say.)

A CHALLENGE TO PAUL WEBER: Either stop trotting out that 6500 early release figure—or prove it.

Posted in CDCR, crime and punishment, criminal justice, prison policy | 29 Comments »

29 Responses

  1. Woody Says:

    Is he the voice for Kermit the Frog?

  2. Janie Says:

    Thank you Celeste. I actually saw this earlier as I like to base my thoughts on the truth and not the rumors.

  3. Janie Says:

    I also think that this is a really important fact that has not been mentioned and is totally overlooked!!

    Here is a report on return to custody percentages.

    A newly released report from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) shows a substantial reduction in recidivism for offenders completing in-prison substance abuse programs…………..

    http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/News/2009_Press_Releases/Oct_07.html

  4. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Nah, Woody, I think he’s the guy who used to play the Marine-turned lawyer on Boston Legal.

  5. serious book lover Says:

    You’re right about Paul Weber and the PPL since he’s taken over its leadership – while I too support maintaining LAPD’s force as did Bratton and do Beck, it IS fear-mongering and mendacious to use the scare tactics he does on a hapless readership.

    The e-blasts that ago out to what I’ve read are upto 400,000 people (who mostly signed up for e-Policing, updates on “first amendment activities,” closures and reports on burglaries and such in their areas) what they’re really getting is a political blast from the union which has often OPPOSED and even denigrated Chief Bratton. Either explicitly or implicitly by linking the articles of Jerry Dunphy.

    While I’m not privee to inside dealings, I have read that this change in their politicking also coincides with hiring Don Novey, who until recently was also political consultant for the state prison guard’s union. He chose to throw a bundle at Trutanich and then Essel, the outsiders, in a cynical move some believed was to “buy” newbies they could better control. The ones also most conservative, suburban vs. metro-leaning and/or downright Republican most like the PPL’s own more conservative current leadership.

    Most of the public doesn’t know the distinction between the PPL and ITS blog vs. the real LAPD blog and positions, and I think that’s kind of insidiously being manipulated.

  6. Janie Says:

    Celeste,
    You know the prisons stopped the funding for the SAP Program which is the Drug program that was in the prisons. It is hard to offer an inmate an incentive like a drug program if it does not exist any longer.
    What I am wondering is what about the inmates that completed the drug program before it was removed from the prisons? I am just keeping track of a couple of people that I had convinced to do the sap program and they completed it. It was a successful program. Will they get the 6 weeks off of their year sentence?

  7. RobThomas Says:

    My uncle’s really pissed about this. Doesn’t want my drug addict cousin to come home. Wants him in jail. He’s threatening to move out of state where my cousin can’t find him. He’s really pissed.

  8. Sure Fire Says:

    What part of this from the link I provided on the other thread is confusing you Celeste to the point that you think people who commit new crimes will be sent back to the joint. When the state tells prosecutors to treat all wobblers as misdemeanors they are circumventing not only the D.A.’s Office, you know the people tasked with prosecuting people for criminal acts, but the laws as they currently are written. I don’t think taht’s their right or call.

    You’re high if you think new crimes will send people back to prison, unless it’s the most serious of crimes. It’s all about money, public safety is an after thought.

    Mitigates Some Impacts on Public Safety.
    While most prison population reduction proposals
    raise concerns because of the potential
    impact on public safety—mainly since inmates
    would no longer be incapacitated in state
    prison—the Governor’s proposal helps alleviate
    some of these concerns. For example, the
    proposal would still allow for the incapacitation
    of these offenders—in county jail rather than
    state prison. In fact, since most of these offenders
    spend on average less than one year in prison,
    from a fiscal and facility management standpoint
    it appears more efficient and appropriate
    to house them in short-term county jail facilities.
    This would help prioritize limited prison resources
    for longer-term and more serious commitments.
    In addition, all of the crimes included in
    the Governor’s proposal are so-called wobblers
    crimes that already may be tried by prosecutors
    as misdemeanors instead of felonies. As a result,
    many offenders convicted of such crimes are
    already sentenced to jail under current law. (In
    our Analysis of the 2008-09 Budget Bill [see page
    D-112], we suggested changing these wobbler
    crimes to be prosecuted only as misdemeanors
    to achieve significant state savings.)

  9. Celeste Fremon Says:

    SF, if the DA tells his or her prosecutors to treat all wobblers as felonies it’s fine and dandy (which has happened in many jurisdictions under certain DA’s, including in LA a few years ago, particularly in juvenile court—pre-Cooley.), but if the opposite instruction is given, it’s not?

    As I said before, my big worry is the impact on already over-crowded county facilities. On that we can agree.

    (BTW, Don’t know which link you mean.)

  10. RobThomas Says:

    Sure Fire,

    Why do you always want Celeste to read YOUR links, to hear out YOUR side of the story, when you never give hers the time of day? She disagrees with you, you call her “high”. Imagine if she treated you the same way? Imagine if every time you came in here and spewed one of your long winded rants, Celeste just responded with, “you’re high”. She’s given you and your arguments, which are basically lifted from various statements from law enforcement agencies, more attention than she should, considering how rude you are. You want so much attention and for everyone to hear out your side, get your own blog.

    And, Celeste, I know you can defend yourself. Just felt it had to be said.

  11. Sure Fire Says:

    Celeste, I never said it’s ok to do it either way, all misdemeanors or all felonies, I said the DA’s office is circumvented from making decisions based on the request by the state so the state can safe money at the expense of public safety.

    Filing deputies that I know have always been hard pressed to give me felonies on wobblers rather than misdemeanors, no way it’s ever a given, and these are seasoned prosecutors I’m talking about. Taking away their say, whatever it might be because the idiots that run the state can’t figure out the budget, is brain-dead.

    Here’s the link.

    http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2010/crim/prison_pop/prison_pop_012510.pdf

  12. serious book lover Says:

    Paul Weber himself was on Peter Tilden’s show this morning, talking up the dire threat to LA of a good number of the 6500 prisoners coming here. One of his big concerns was that with no parole officers and their slates being wiped clean, these prisoners, many of them repeat offenders, would get to start all over racking up felonies before they got to the Number 3 – and they could just leave the state and force a new ID. He made Dennis Zine sould like Pollyanna.

    Then, near the end of the show (around 8:39), Trutanich turned up to repeat much of the same. Celeste, you’ll love that he mentioned one of YOUR favorite books, “the Black Hand,” as “a good read” which will give us citizens a sense of what REALLY goes on in the revolving prisoner release world.

    He too decried that we won’t be able to send them back on minor parole violations, but will have to wait for the much more time-consuming, costly and difficult to prove new offenses. Ever the master of the pithy soundbite, he referred to the “Black Hand” explaining how “between every parole violation and return to prison, there’s a victim.”

    So between Zine-Weber-Trutanich, Tilden resolved to try again to learn how to shoot his Glock: he related how the last time he’d tried, he got the thing, fully loaded, pinched onto his hand, and ran around yelling “help me get this thing off!” while everyone ran for cover. He’s banned from THAT shooting range but ever fearless, is determined to try as soon as possible at another one, the spectre of thousands of dangerous prisoners looming in his head. Just what we need to make us ALL feel safer. Not.

    Tilden bought all this lock, stock and barrel, along with Trutanich’s take that he’s given LA a very fair and compassionate version of the marijuana dispensary law just approved (NOT that he and Cooley had an interpretation of state law which would have shut down ALL the current dispensaries, which is the fact). Of course, Tilden didn’t hide that he’s smitten: kept calling him “manly, a good-looking and powerful man” maybe too unwilling to forgive and forget, hence his gallbladder problems. But added that “you even smell nice.” Ah-hem. For what it’s worth, the threesome who follows Tilden, having passed Trutanich in the hallway, were not so enthusiastic about him or his legal positions.

    For good measure, he made fun of Arnold’s claim that by NOT putting parole violators back in prison, we’ll somehow be safer. (Well, as you note, it WILL reduce over-crowding and allow us to incarcerate more dangerous criminals. Unless they put the pot patients in there as well.)

    This will appear on the KABC website as a podcast. (Except of course the olfactory experience: you’ll have to take Tilden’s word for that one.)

  13. serious book lover Says:

    Celeste, the Daily News of all places (tho the ultimate valley paper, it’s been less predictable and actually MORE sincere sometimes in its editorials than the LA Times), suggests HI as a state with a model for prisoner parole reform we might emulate. The very example YOU used in that Filter discussion – arguing that instead of locking people up more unequivocally for longer periods for lesser offenses, as we do in CA, we could lock them up with more certainly BUT for much shorter periods as in Hawaii. Which has significantly reduced recidivism AND made people feel safer.

  14. Celeste Fremon Says:

    SBL, Cool! I’ll go find it. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Tuesday’s Which Way LA was on the topic too, and very good. I’ll post all or some of these things likely tomorrow mid-morning-ish.

  15. Sure Fire Says:

    So there won’t be new victims created by some of those getting out SBL? Last I looked getting to state prison took effort, it wasn’t a sentence imposed on someone for some meaningless misdemeanor offense, the law doesn’t allow that.

    No SBL, these people coming out are all felons and from what I’ve read, from what I’ve heard and from memos I’ve seen many gangsters will be released, with some extra measures to keep track of them, and to think they’ll all behave is beyond naive. that’s not how they operate.

    My personal opinion is that parole should be abolished. You go into prison with a set term and you stay that whole time unless you meet certain requirements. Those requirements would include staying out of trouble while in, attending substance abuse programs, taking advantage of educational opportunities, work a prison job and make restitution if it’s ordered and have a place to live and job waiting for you prior to release.

    Without those requirements being met adios to any early release ever. If met, no parole you can only catch a new case. My belief is not very many cons would take advantage of the chance given them because they don’t mind prison all that much as it is and the responsibility of actually finishing what’s required would be too much for the majority of them.

    Some of you here who give cons every benefit of the doubt would I’m sure feel that’s just way to much for a society, even one that’s been victimized way to often, to demand from those who have shown they can’t behave but if you truly care about some type of rehab along with assuring the safety of the public, how could you be against this?

  16. serious book lover Says:

    SF, you misconstrue everything I said and the context, the scaremongering and exaggerations from the 3 Stooges noted. Alleging that everyone who violates parole does so at the expense of another victim is one of those examples: Celeste has documented how most violations are minor or technical, like visiting the mother of someone’s baby who lives in an out-of-bounds gang hood (OK, they should NOT violate parole period and took a chance, but there’s no “victim” there), and in the next breath, Trutanich admitted it by admitting how easy it is to send them back on parole violations.

    If you’re right that there “are many gangsters to be released,” that’s another matter, but in fact, reports are that the least violent and likely to re-offend are first. As I’ve said concurring with Celeste, and even the LAT editorialized, older, sicker inmates should get out first – if release decisions are being made at random, address the specifics and share your documentation. (The “Black Hand” Trutanich recommends to those who want to know what ‘really’ goes down with gangs, contributes to the fear that the Mexican Mafia kingpins will be let out and run the streets directly instead of indirectly from prison – more of the fearmongering approach these 3 are using vs. sharing specifics and POSITIVE steps people can take. At least Bratton’s i-Watch, encouraging community watches, etc. is a step more in that direction than having the Peter Tildens arm themselves in paranoia.)

    Your “personal feelings” about wanting to deny parole under any circumstances so that inmates will be forced to serve out their whole time and study, work, rehab themselves, flies in the face of what REALLY happens in state prison: as stated in so many words by none other than Dennis Zine, one of the joined-at-the-hip trio of Weber-Trutanich. He SAID in so many words what many others know but are too clever to blurt out, that once someone is sent there “they become hardcore criminals” and THEREFORE unfit to return to society. That “faith” in the efficacy of the prison system to actually rehabilitate is clearly behind Trutanich’s wanting to keep excuses to declare parole violation as flimsy as possible.

    Of course we want to keep potentially dangerous criminals the streets, and your constantly accusing any of us who don’t agree with you as wanting to keep criminals ON the streets is offensive and stupid, the kind of thing that makes people tend in advance to discount any kernel of sense you may share now and then – but throwing out these sorts of extremely wide technical booby-traps is absurd.

    And if you were really in favor of drug rehab for inmates, that’s another topic discussed here and elsewhere at length: with upto 1/2 of inmates there for that and NOT getting treatment, which would be much less expensive, far more effective and humane than how they’re being treated now, that’s another common-sense approach NOT being taken.

  17. Janie Says:

    Have a job waiting for them when they are released? What are they going to do….. job hunt from prison? Send their resumes and go to interviews? How far away from reality is that?

  18. Sure Fire Says:

    Than I guess they don’t get out Janie. If they have all these family members anxious for their return they should have some job waiting, I don’t care if its McDonalds. Or in this down economy are you thinking they’ll just hang around the pad and sweep up, do dishes and watch t.v.? That’s a little far from reality Janie and you’re even more on the edge if you think they’ll be good boys and girls upon release. It’s not their style.

    Are you confused as to what it takes to get to the joint? These people are suposed to be trusted? Nope, not in my opinion, and parole is supposed to be like you’re still in prison just not living inside. If a con does let’s say 3 years for a first degree burglary, gets out and starts using meth or heroin or whatever, again, and gets thrown back in county for as few weeks that’s going to make an impression? How long till another Lily Burk happens and it will?

    Since we have a recividism rate of about 70% and we’re losing the hammer we’ve had to make them behave on the outside do you really think the county jails won’t be forced to house many as they won’t be sent back to the joint.

    You people who constantly look at cons as good guys are brain-dead.

  19. Sure Fire Says:

    SBL, you went to the Reg and Celeste school of posting things I never said. This is why I think liberals are simply not as smart as they think they are?

    Because Trutanich made some claim abouy how easy it is to send someone back you buy it? Visiting a baby is going to get someone violated on it’s own, b.s. Not unless something else is going on. I retired from street work 7 years ago and it was getting hard to violate parolees then, it’s much harder now and anyone who thinks different is crazy. I’ve talked to enough cups and agents to know that, how many have you talked to?

    Where did I say, or agree that every parolee getting out will create a new victim? Though you apparently don’t see family as a victim, kids and wives and others, I do but a new actual crime victim? I never said that but even one more Charlie Samuel, someone not sent back after being in violation is one to many.

    I also didn’t say anything about an inmate “rehabing themselves” I said ” Those requirements would include staying out of trouble while in, attending substance abuse programs, taking advantage of educational opportunities, work a prison job and make restitution if it’s ordered and have a place to live and job waiting for you prior to release”. A program SBL, or should that burden for them to attend be placed on someone else besides society doing it for free for these cons and weaklings?

    I don’t care what some politician, police chief, da or LAT editorial writer thinks, people sent to the joint, in the first place, are for the most part “hard core criminals”. They might get worse but going in they’ve already proved what they’re all about. They’d be doing county time other wise, spare me please.

    In my opinion, both you and Celeste, looking at Charles Samuel record would have been ok with his not going back to the joint when violated a few months prior to his murdering Lily Burk. I’m not saying you’re not as horrified as anyone else at what he did but people with the naive look at the world you two have should just don’t get it, or understand cons. I don’t care how many books you write or classes you take you just don’t get it.

    That doesn’t make you bad people, just easily swayed for reasons that are beyond me.

  20. Celeste Fremon Says:

    “Visiting a baby is going to get someone violated on it’s own, b.s. Not unless something else is going on.”

    With all respect, you’re entirely incorrect. And, by the way, I DO talk to PO’s on a regular basis (and cops and defense attorneys, and those “cons” you mention).

  21. Sure Fire Says:

    What year did this violation take place Celeste? There was no restraining order or other paperwork on the parolee, he was just where he was not allowed to be? That’s unheard of these days. I’d like to hear the whole story.

    Talking to Chiefs, captains and other brass don’t count and truthfully Celeste, many cops will spread manure because they have to project some crazy image to the public demanded by higher ups who investigate every tiny complaint that comes up, so they do the pc act to avoid trouble internally.

    Want to know what happens these days Celeste. I’ll use a recent ( last year) true example. Idiot Boy is scalping tickets at an L.A. County event. Law enforcement gets wind of it and he’s contacted when Officers A and B show up. Officer A tells him to walk over to their unit as some of his friends are getting mouthy.

    Idiot Boy starts lipping off and refusing and is told by Officr A, you can walk over on your own or I can take you, take your pick. Idiot Boy than complies and is cited and released in the field for the violation. Idiot Boy later shows up with his daddy to file a complaint on the officer (Idiot Boy is 28 but needs daddy with him). He claims the officer said he would “drag him to his unit and beat his fing ass”. A few of his friends back that story up.

    Problem is Officer B had his recorder going and it confirms what Officer A really said and Idiot Boy, daddy and friends leave complaining it’s a big cover-up, you know like what always happens. Officer A thinks cool I’m in the clear. Brass says hold on young gunslinger, why wasn’t your recorder on? He says, policy doesn’t say I have to have it on but he’s still reemed with an informal educational write-up that stays in his package for a year.

    He fights that and it’s taken out but the extremes some supervisors will go to in the discipline happy world of many police agencies is nauseating. Of course people likeIdiot Boy, his daddy and pals can say what they want and people will buy it. I’m not like that, and where I’m not calling you a liar Celeste, having someone violated simply for visiting their child, with nothing else on board, is very odd in comparison to how it’s been for awhile.

  22. Joan Petersilia Says:

    Celeste,

    I am really glad you are trying to get the facts out there — there is just so much misinformation about these parole changes.

    Can you send or post a copy of the Paul Weber letter you refer to?

    Best,
    Joan

  23. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Hi Joan,

    You were excellent on Warren Olney’s show last week.

    Indeed the misinformation is driving me mad. I’ll email the letter in a few minutes.

  24. serious book lover Says:

    Sheriff Lee Baca is featured in an article in today’s Daily News making a valid point: that one way the state is trying to reduce its own prison population is by shifting the burden onto the County jails, by reducing some felonies (including grand theft auto and receiving stolen goods, as well as meth possession, which falls into a category where the drug rehab vs. strictly incarceration issue comes into play) so that the penalty falls within the 366 days that enable them to serve their time in county jail. That in turn would force him to release some prisoners even earlier to reduce overcrowding in the also overcrowded county jails. All of this sounds true and very concerning; at the same time, he’s known to get dramatic whenever his budget is reduced, and flat-out refused to test DNA kits which are essential to catching criminals, until Human Rights Watch so embarrassed the county that Zev Yaroslavsky took matters into his own hands.

    In its email blast today, the PPL does link to an article stating that the 6500 prisoners due to be released early are “non-violent.” Confirming that its dire warnings of violent criminals flooding our streets was exaggerated and created undue panic in the public.

    However there’s no doubt the situation is dire on a number of levels. Meanwhile, another of Arnold’s draconian proposals to generate revenue would be to have red-light cameras issue speeding tickets to anyone speeding through a light, EVEN IF IT’S GREEN, or if they don’t come to a dead-on stop before turning right. (Seems that would result in a lot of claims of inaccuracy and bureaucratic backlogs in the courts of people trying to fight them.) As we’re all aware the city wants to “boot” cars with just 3-4 traffic tickets as well as city parking fines. The state already raised the cost of a speeding ticket to $800, and they’ve installed lots of red light cameras which raise revenue but by some accounts, have increased traffic collisions. I’d be happier accepting all this if money at the jails and prisons were spent more effectively, with the more sensible (which does NOT mean “coddling criminals” as SF etc. claim) parole reforms and release of sick and elderly that have been noted. Instead of being spent to lock people up to TURN THEM INTO “hardcore criminals” who become lifelong burdens of the state and lost forever.

  25. Sure Fire Says:

    100 yera old pedophile got busted recently SBL so yeah, never worry about older cons getting out.

    This statement of yours…In its email blast today, the PPL does link to an article stating that the 6500 prisoners due to be released early are “non-violent.” Confirming that its dire warnings of violent criminals flooding our streets was exaggerated and created undue panic in the public.

    If I had the ok to run all their rap sheets there is no way I wouldn’t find past crimes of violence in many of them. Last offense being non-violent doesn’t make someone a non-violent offender, you and Celeste never seem to get that. You guys can put out all your “not coddling criminals” b.s. you want but when your primary concern is to constanly try to find a way to soften these hard core thugs it’s easy to see how gullible you are.

    Charles Samuel was a perfect example.

  26. serious book lover Says:

    Charles Sameul was NOT “a perfect example” by any means. He had previously tried to kidnap someone, a violent crime, in a similar situation and it was a bureaucratic mess-up that it wasn’t noted. The rest of your post is the same old nonsense and blithe obliviousness to facts and illogic from the right.
    Because OF COURSE “liberals” are desperate to have potential rapists and hardcore criminals roaming our streets. And OF COURSE anyone who doesn’t agree with rightwing Republicans, ilogical or otherwise, IS a ‘criminal coddling liberal.’

  27. Sure Fire Says:

    Nope, when he was violated after his release from his last prison sentence he could have been sent back to the joint for the violation, regardless of the missed chance to have a third strike sentence (A sentence he probably wouldn’t have received anyway due to Cooley’s policy on such cases, one I don’t agree with but muddle-headed liberals like you do).

    The decision to instead put him in a residential treatment program is what cost Lily Burk her life which makes him, as I said, a perfect example. His past record was known by those making that decision, who are you trying to kid. As I said though it’s all about saving money now and if a few people die to save a buck, it’s apparently no big deal.

    Same old b.s. no matter what you call yourself.

  28. Sure Fire Says:

    Celeste, are you going to respond on the questions I asked about the parole violation for visiting a baby?

  29. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Sure Fire,

    I wanted to make some phone calls about some cases so that I could get you some really good answers. But I’m beyond jammed, so I’ve not gotten to it.

    Here’s a partial answer:

    The most egregious case I know of a guy getting busted for visiting his son and his kid’s mother was indeed a while ago. But there was no other extenuating anything. And he was doing well. (Part of a great jobs program, staying away from the ‘hood, testing clean, reporting in, and all that.) On the day in question, his lady asked him to go to the corner store for some orange juice and he got stopped then by officers who knew him. (Back in the day, he had been pretty high profile.) They ran him and that was that. But it was, as I said, some time back.

    The case I mentioned on The Filter was more complicated. The guy has a job, he was staying away from trouble, testing clean, and his P.O. (with whom I spoke a couple of times) was willing to cut him slack as he was clearly doing well. The board was not so inclined.

    More recently I’ve known of several people getting busted for gang association when they’re just driving home with co-workers from Homeboy Industries—and variations on that theme.

    I know of a lot of cases where the violations are just not in anybody’s best interest. They cover the waterfront. But if I write them out here tonight, it’ll be the length of a novella. I realize that’s not very satisfying as I’m only giving you broadstrokes once again.

    But I’ll tell you what. It’s an interesting issue, and your questions have stimulated my thinking.

    This is such a hot button topic for a lot of us—falling to one side of the issue or the other—that I’d like to actually do some kind of series of posts in which I (or someone else I talk into this) profiles some of these cases, but with all the facts verified. I think it’s important.

    I know that doesn’t quite answer all your questions. It’s the best I can do right this second. (Miles to go before I sleep tonight.) But I’m not letting go of the issue. So hang on. We’ll have plenty of moments for additional discussion.

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