Green Room

California paroling record number of lifers under Jerry Brown

posted at 1:34 pm on February 25, 2014 by

Opponents of the death penalty — myself among them — argue that life sentences are enough to keep society safe. What happens when life sentences … aren’t? The Associated Press reports that paroles of lifers in California have skyrocketed under Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration:

Since Gov. Jerry Brown assumed office in January 2011, a record number of inmates with life sentences are winning parole. Brown has allowed the release of nearly 1,400 lifers, while going along with the parole board about 82 percent of the time.

Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, authorized the release of 557 lifers during his six-year term, sustaining the board at a 27 percent clip. Before that, Gov. Gray Davis over 3 years approved the release of two.

This dramatic shift in releases under Brown comes as the state grapples with court orders to ease a decades-long prison crowding crisis that has seen triple bunking, prison gyms turned into dormitories and inmates shipped out of state.

Crime victims and their advocates have said the releases are an injustice to the victims and that the parolees could pose a danger to the public. More than 80 percent of lifers are in prison for murder, while the remaining are mostly rapists and kidnappers.

“This is playing Russian roulette with public safety,” said Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance. “This is a change of philosophy that can be dangerous.”

It’s important to note that these life sentences are not the “life without parole” variety, but the kind that started off eligible for parole at some point in the future. The only way to undo the LWOP sentences would be executive acts of clemency.  That, at least thus far, doesn’t seem to be Brown’s direction.

In fact, Brown defends these approvals by saying the court has forced his hand on prison overcrowding. He’s blocked 100 paroles thus far, but can’t issue vetoes at the same rate and expect to comply with judicial orders to lower prison populations. Assuming that doesn’t do the trick, and California doesn’t add prison space, how long before judges start looking at LWOP cases? Or for that matter, California’s death-row roster, most of whom wait decades before facing the executioner?

California needs to make some tough decisions on incarceration, sentencing, and investment in prisons. This is just another symptom of the state’s governing class kicking those decisions down the road for far too long.

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Don’t worry, they only commit crimes to Republicans. /s

Oil Can on February 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM

I have always argued that this would be a good business to out-source to the Afganis. They have a great prison system that is strongly tied to nature (no heat, no glass on windows) which encourages lots of exercise. They also have a strong God (Allah) center rehab program. They would probably be cheaper that the CA prisons and pensions would not be a worry. It is win-win for both govts!!

KenInIL on February 25, 2014 at 2:15 PM

And now we know why Libfree dropped off the map. He’s moving to CA.

nobar on February 25, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Next step restore their voting rights and register more Dems for victory!

:facepalm:

xNavigator on February 25, 2014 at 2:19 PM

For DECADES the hard left anti-death penalty prosecutors have told victims that ‘a life sentence’ will NEVER be revoked!

Now, the hard leftists, like J Brown, have exposed their LIES for all to see!

Never trust the lieing left wing prosecutors! They will stab ANY victim in the back for a few dollars!

Meanwhile, in a totally related story, the lawless Eric Holder is telling state atty generals to IGNORE laws HE has deemed irrelevant.

How can ANYONE trust ANY of these criminals in the legal system?

Freddy on February 25, 2014 at 2:33 PM

This is just another symptom of the state’s governing class kicking those decisions down the road for far too long.

That would be the DEMOCRATIC legislative majority that has held power for years.

As for ‘the death penalty’, it really doesn’t exist in The People’s Republik any longer. Of the over 600 now on death row, the longest “serving” has been waiting for over 25 years, thanks to the lawyers and judges who have repeatedly ignored laws which stipulate “deadlines” that must be met in the appeals process.

Few appeals have anything to do with guilt or innocence. My personal favorite was “our client got incompetent and ineffective legal counsel”. Why? Because “if we did our job right, he wouldn’t have been given the death penalty”. So did the lawyers, who made that claim resign their law license for being incompetent? Nope.

GarandFan on February 25, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Moonbeam Brown releasing Dem voters.

sadatoni on February 25, 2014 at 3:04 PM

If the Media was actually doing its job in California, they would be reporting on each and every one of these releases, complete with background information:

- What crimes the inmate was convicted of that earned him/her a life sentence

- Statements from the victim(s) or the families of the victim(s) about the impact of the crime(s)

- The cost and length of the legal process that sent the person to jail for life.

- The names of the people who are recommending that these inmates are “safe” to release

- The community where the lifer will live after being released.

If the media put a bright light on this process one of 2 things would happen:

1) Gov. Jerry Brown would anticipate so much justified outrage from the public that he would stop releasing these prisoners

or

2) California Voters would be properly informed and might actually wake up and VOTE JERRY BROWN OUT OF OFFICE.

wren on February 25, 2014 at 3:25 PM

…let them all live in Moonbeams neighborhood!

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2014 at 3:26 PM

The prison inmates lawyers hate that so many people are in prison. To them, inmates are political prisoners. It’s a big lefty piece of dogma–highest incarceration in the first world!!

So they don’t care how it happens or who gets hurt–they really see these inmates as oppressed victims.

PattyJ on February 25, 2014 at 4:36 PM

I don’t see the problem here. These are only murderers, rapists and kidnappers. I mean, it’s not like they were unborn fetuses or something. Sheesh. Get a grip.

trigon on February 25, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Hey, California is pretty much one big “Gun-Free” zone and and the hassles of legally obtaining and owning a firearm are tantamount to sodomy. So, just as long as all the law-abiding Californians are unarmed and defenseless everything will be super-cool.

M240H on February 25, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Yes, and I must assume that this release of bunches of career criminals runs concomitant with the Unicorn’s efforts at disarming the last 17 legal gun owners in Kalifornia…

vnvet on February 25, 2014 at 5:10 PM

If prison population reductions are mandated, I would rather see him focus on reductions of non-violent offenders, white collar crime, soft drug crime, etc.

TheLoudTalker on February 25, 2014 at 6:18 PM

I stopped reading after “myself included”.

Bleed_thelizard on February 25, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Somehow I see a few replicants eventually visiting their maker.

(Referring to Blade Runner if any are wondering.)

viking01 on February 25, 2014 at 6:40 PM

We told you so?
Y

LoganSix on February 25, 2014 at 7:13 PM

This is a Blue State problem. I do not live in a Blue State. If the zealously progressive half of the country wants to live in Barter Town then let them.

Punchenko on February 25, 2014 at 8:48 PM

CA’s pols must all be Futbal players, as they seem to be the greatest kickers in the world.

Another Drew on February 25, 2014 at 9:10 PM

Yeah, “put em away for life! That’ll teach em! We don’t need the death penalty! Just lock em up and throw away the key!”

JellyToast on February 25, 2014 at 10:02 PM

This dramatic shift in releases under Brown comes as the state grapples with court orders to ease a decades-long prison crowding crisis that has seen triple bunking, prison gyms turned into dormitories and inmates shipped out of state.

Those lifers have been hanging around forever. Good riddance! /

Hill60 on February 25, 2014 at 10:22 PM

I despise Moonbeam, but he’s right. This is the court’s doing, and unless Jerry has a spare prison hidden up his butt, SOMEONE has to be released. Most of the safest “non-violent” prisoners have already been given early paroles. The lifers are being looked at because many of them are senior citizens now and pose a greatly-reduced threat from when they were convicted.

Rusty Nail on February 26, 2014 at 12:31 AM

1. Build more prisons.
2. If you have to release inmates because of overcrowding, release only low level offenders.

SoulGlo on February 26, 2014 at 3:34 AM

Those lifers have been hanging around forever.

Hill60 on February 25, 2014 at 10:22 PM

If they were hanging, they wouldn’t be lifers.

Shy Guy on February 26, 2014 at 7:13 AM

There once was a time, in the 40s and 50s. when the highway patrol in Oklahoma would stop cars with California plates from driving on our highways. Maybe we ought to do a check, similar to Ice, to turn back all the felons.

Old Country Boy on February 26, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Opponents of the death penalty — myself among them

Wow. Just wow.

HotAirian on February 26, 2014 at 9:38 AM

This plus AB109 has become so overwhelming for probation and parole.

FusDoRah on February 26, 2014 at 10:09 AM

These are simply misunderstood dems who should have their voting rights restored immediately.

hawkeye54 on February 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Opponents of the death penalty — myself among them

Wow. Just wow.

HotAirian on February 26, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Killers will simply kill again when arises the opportunity to respond to the slightest offense or just for kicks. One has only one life to serve life sentences, no matter how many multiple sentences one gets, so what difference does it make.

hawkeye54 on February 26, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Be armed with plenty of ammo.

Dollayo on February 26, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Those lifers have been hanging around forever.
Hill60 on February 25, 2014 at 10:22 PM

If they were hanging, they wouldn’t be lifers.
Shy Guy on February 26, 2014 at 7:13 AM

When punting in football, hang time is a good thing.

When punting in California government, hang time is nonexistent.

Marcola on February 27, 2014 at 12:01 PM