Chowchilla kidnapper granted parole from CMC

April 1, 2015
James Schoenfeld

James Schoenfeld

One of the men who kidnapped a busload of Chowchilla schoolchildren and their bus driver in 1976 was granted parole Wednesday in San Luis Obispo, where he is imprisoned at the California Men’s Colony. [SacBee]

This was the 20th parole hearing for James Schoenfeld, 63. The ruling will go through an internal review before it is sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, which could take several months.

On July 15, 1976, James Schoenfeld, along with his brother Richard Schoenfeld and their friend Frederick Woods, kidnapped 26 children and an adult bus driver from their bus. The kidnappers hid the bus, and loaded the children— who were ages 5 to 14 — and the driver into two vans they drove to a quarry near Livermore.

The kidnappers then forced their victims through a hole into a buried trailer stocked with mattresses, food and water and equipped with fans and ventilation. The bus driver freed himself and the children before the kidnappers had made their $5 million ransom demand.

The three men plead guilty and were eventually sentenced to life in prison with the potential for parole.

Richard Schoenfeld was released on June 20, 2012. Woods remains in prison after he was denied parole for the 14th time in 2012.

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Are they nuts?

Thirty five plus years for kidnapping? What’s sad is that if he’d accidentally killed one of them he would have already been released.

Keep him ‘Gov!

I have to think of the mental anguish these 26 people went thru as they were under ground in a bus and wondering if they would live or die. I think maybe they should be the ones who decide if this scum bag pos get paroled.

He has spent most of his life in prison, has no job and no skills that I am aware of.Don’t know about family who can help him out, other than his brother who helped commit the crime. I think the reason he is getting paroled is his age and the state does not want to pay his medical bills as he gets older. So why not release him and hope he does not commit another horrendous crime.

Maybe I would feel better if this guy was being released into the neighborhood the parole board lives in.

Yet another example of where California is going.

Now give him a job as a school bus driver too. That would be the cherry on the whole thing.

If people aren’t going to trust parole boards then they need to do away with them. The idea here is to allow people to be rehabilitated and enter back into society. If you don’t believe that people can be changed for the better, reeducated, and become valued members of the society then why not just kill them on conviction? Chop off their hands or even better wipe out their families?

It’s either one or the other. Make a choice, either you believe in the ability to change or you believe that all criminals must be excluded forever.

Prison does not rehabilitate. It punishes.. The only reason this guy is getting out is they believe he is no longer a threat to society because he is old and broken.

Life is not so black and white. Is it possible to be “rehabilitated”? Of course. Is it the normal result of incarceration? Not by a long-shot. You cannot change someone that doesn’t want to change, and most sociopaths do not. So no, it’s not one or the other. Some people truly get caught up in bad circumstances, but some are simply predators with no conscience. It is unfair to society and the rest of the prison population to allow such people to live. Kill their whole family? What, is this the DPRK, or Saddam-era Iraq? Why would you execute an innocent person? That’s hardly the same thing as executing someone like Clarence Ray Allen.

One more wrong in a long list in regards to our legal system.

good job to the bus driver bad job to the parole board