Thousands of California inmates with life sentences could get paroled

October 19, 2018

As many as 4,000 inmates serving life sentences in California could be eligible for parole following a decision by the state to give up its legal battle over the implementation of a voter-approved ballot measure. [SF Chronicle]

In 2016, California voters approved Proposition 57, which allows for nonviolent felons to gain early release from prison. The passage of the measure remains controversial largely because state code only classifies a limited number of offenses as violent felonies.

Under California’s Three Strikes law, a third strike mandates a prison sentence of 25 years to life. Critics of the law claim it results in sentences that are too harsh and can keep some nonviolent offenders locked away for life.

Still, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration had been contesting in court the inclusion of prisoners with three strikes among the offenders eligible for parole under Prop. 57. But, Brown’s administration recently dropped its legal challenge and opted to let an appellate court ruling stand.

The appeals court decided in a Los Angeles County case that the language of Prop. 57 made it clear offenders with three strikes would be included among those given the chance for early release.

Brown’s administration had argued the offenders with three strikes were ineligible for parole because they were serving indeterminate life sentences. Later, the administration argued the prisoners could not receive parole because of the threat to public safety.

Now, the state will craft new regulations by January that include repeat offenders in early release provisions.

The state parole board estimates 3,000 to 4,000 non-violent offenders with three strikes could be affected by the rule change. Still, the prisoners would not be granted parole without going through a public safety screening and a parole board hearing.

Michael Romano, the director of the Stanford Three Strikes Project, said the approximately 4,000 inmates affected include offenders serving life sentences for stealing a bicycle, possessing less than half a gram of methamphetamine, stealing two bottles of alcohol and shoplifting shampoo. Those inmates are also disproportionately black and mentally ill, Romano said.

Critics argue that affording prisoners with three strikes the opportunity for parole will lead to a rise in crime.

In addition to conceding in the legal battle over three strikes offenders, Brown’s administration has also decided not to appeal a ruling that the state is illegally excluding nonviolent career criminals from parole. Both cases are considered political losses for Brown as he prepares to leave the governor’s mansion.

A legal battle still appears to be ongoing, though, over the implementation of Prop. 57 with regard to sex offenders. In February, a judge ruled the state must consider earlier parole for possibly thousands of sex offenders.

Brown’s administration is fighting the ruling. Though Brown supported Prop. 57, he also repeatedly promised to exclude sex offenders from the early release program.


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Jorge Estrada

All should be afforded jobs working for the State of California and all should have seniority based on their date of arrest.


Francesca Bolognini

Interesting “comments”. Seems like no one who has weighed in so far has actually read the article. How does the specific statement regarding non-violent offenses translate, I am assuming in your brains, into murderers and violent sex offenders? Or, perhaps you own stock in private for profit prisons. They are charging enough to put a person thru Harvard just to hold a shoplifter for the year. Talk about your corrupt government/quid pro quo scam.


In the countries that focus on re-socializing their incarcerated citizens, the recidivism rate (that means the percentage of re-offenders) is extremely low compared to the US. So, however “whacky” ya’ll think it is to be “soft on crime”, there is the betterment of society and much better ways to spend our money than holding people whose third offense is stealing a bottle of shampoo to be considered. If you would care to think that far.. Unless you would prefer to personally foot that bill for holding the non-violent who could be redirected to productive lives.


As for the sex offenders, that is a case by case situation. Some of them, who are not mentally ill, are likely candidates for re-hab. Some were relatively young men who were involved in a consensual relationship with a slightly underaged girl, for instance. Violence and force would not be released, as per the statement in the article. Case by case. Crazy, compulsive offenders should never be released, IMHO. No matter how much they have “paid a debt to society”, because they are highly likely if not certain to re-offend. We need to be intelligent about these things, not reactionary.


We have more people in prison, percentage wise, than any other society on the planet. This trend was started by Bill Clinton, folks. If you think that bleeding heart libs are responsible for so much bad policy, why are you supporting one of their worst?


rukidding

With all of these decisions it’s becoming very clear what the definition of a swamp is or just call it California.


shelworth

Let’s see, restrict honest people from buying guns to protect themselves, let bad guys out of prison, open the borders, increase taxes, 400 billion dollar health care for everyone (including illegals), get rid of oil, gas, etc. and only have electric (even though the grid can’t handle our needs now. Is that the Democrat agenda? And Newsom is ahead in the polls. God help us.


jdchem

This is what the voters wanted. They deserve to get it.


Snoid

Strange thing is every time something like this gets through all one hears is who the hell would vote for such a law or bill? Pfffttt..you wont have to worry about flush him down brown soon anyhow. Now your gonna have the ultra liberal grandstanding retaliative of Pelosi to deal with, Newsome..  


pnishaven

Great let the sex offenders out so thousands of kids and women can feel safe and know the government is protecting them. Way to go courts.


Snoid

Should be helpful for the “me too ” movement. The Pervocrat party at its finest.


ml1999

Democrats soft on crime, nothing new. So compassionate to allow serial, violent, mentally ill people out of prison. s/


Francesca Bolognini

Interestingly, the original “liberator” of the mentally ill, dumping them out onto the street into homelessness, crime and early death, was good ol’ Ronald Reagan.

How soon they forget. The article, if you had actually read it, specifies that violent offenders would NOT be released. Perhaps you should re-read and give yourself a moment before posting in the future.


shelworth

I believe if you read this and about this topic in other places you will find that our esteemed leaders are only taking into consideration the final “Strike”, the first two could be violent, but the one that sent them up for 25 could be the proverbial Pizza strike. Any 3 striker should be considered a compulsive offender.


George Bailey

Folks,


Gov. Jerry Brown ought to be prosecuted for criminal stupidity.


While the whacky, ultra-liberal progressives think it’s cool to give early release to violent murderers and sex offenders, the rest of us are not impressed.


As you cast your ballot on November 6, keep in mind that the Democrat Party is weak-on-crime, and it is dangerous to elect these people to public office.  Locally, the goofy SLO Progressives embrace the same failed agenda, and people like Heidi Harmon, Caren Ray, Adam Hill, Aaron Gomez, and Carlyn Christianson must be rejected at the polling pace, because their votes might give freedom to murderers and sexual offenders.


Reject the Progressive crowd.


Just saying,


George Bailey


Francesca Bolognini

You must be a really young guy. Back in the day, the agenda of Gov. Brown would have been considered Republican. That was back when I thought of myself as having those leanings. But this country has gone so far into corporate nationalism, that none of you remember. You have handed your great society over to moguls without a whimper. Good luck with that.