Gowins, who lost her home in the Camp Fire, said she felt “disgusted” that PG&E was paying only a $4 million fine.

“Why is it that PG&E continues to get away with murder and destruction while ignoring all the legal warnings, probations, government demands, CPUC oversight and the court’s penalties?” she asked.

Ramsey heard the frustration voiced by victims, along with questions about why no PG&E executives will be sent to jail and why the fine is so small.

Even more, the plea deal doesn’t call for PG&E to be placed on probation. By contrast, the utility was ordered in 2017 to spend five years under the supervision of a federal judge after it was convicted of safety violations over a gas pipeline blast that killed eight people.

Ramsey says his hands are tied. Under California law, corporations are treated like people when they are convicted of crimes, and PG&E is paying the same fine a person would face for an unintentional killing through negligence: $10,000 for each count of involuntary manslaughter. The utility is also pleading guilty to an 85th count -- unlawfully causing a fire -- and paying the maximum $50,000 fine for that, along with court fees and remimbursement to Ramsey’s office for its investigation.

An individual found guilty of a single count of involuntary manslaughter might be locked up for as long as four years -- but of course that’s not an option for companies. And placing a company under court supervision as an alternative to incarceration is difficult because the law -- written for people -- gives defendants the option of declining probation in favor of spending more time behind bars.

In PG&E’s case, the solution is for a court-appointed monitor overseeing the company’s safety performance in the federal criminal case to also report to Ramsey until January 2022.

As for the executives, they couldn’t be found criminally liable unless the evidence proved they participated in causing the Camp Fire, according to Ramsey. The utility’s layered corporate structure made pinning wrongdoing on an individual impossible, particularly because the essence of the crime was years of failing to do maintenance, he said.

“That wasn’t just one day or one year,” he said. “This was over decades.”

At the hearing, Ramsey intends for the utility to acknowledge its culpability aloud for every victim by name. Surviving victims are expected to address Superior Court Judge Michael Deems Wednesday and possibly into Thursday and Friday before he imposes a sentence on the company.