California Parole Reform Act of 2011

As we mentioned in an earlier post, the politicians, both prosecutors and legislators, are quick to jump on an “anti-crime” bandwagon when it rolls through town and the Parole Reform Act of 2011 is just that.

In a guest editorial making its way into local papers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune which is where we saw it, Senator Ted Gaines and El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, both of whom are involved in getting the legislation put before the Senate, spend a lot of time on the soapbox and applauding themselves in addition to trying to scare everyone into supporting their efforts.

“Jaycee Lee Dugard’s tragic case started and ended in our jurisdictions. As fathers, elected officials and Californians, we have felt it our duty to make sure that we act to prevent such horrible crimes from happening again. That is why we have been working together to develop and introduce Senate Bill 391 – the ‘Parole Reform Act of 2011.’ The Act will make a critical change to our parole system that will help keep dangerous, life-term prisoners behind bars.”

Unfortunately, what is likely to happen is that the law will actually be used as a way to keep non-violent offenders locked up for longer by reducing parole.

The op-ed goes on to state that ‘By undoing a damaging, pro-criminal California Supreme Court decision, the ‘Parole Reform Act of 2011’ will [allow the government to protect Californians]'”.

The case they are referring to is the Lawrence case decided by the California Supreme Court. That case basically stands for the proposition that the Parole Board is supposed to consider only what has happened while incarcerated to determine if parole is appropriate and not the facts of the original crime. That reasoning makes sense if you assume that the jury or judge already considered the facts of the original case when assessing the sentence and also takes into account the concept, alien to both Sen. Gaines and the DA, that prisons should rehabilitate as well as punish.

What really galls though, is that when a court makes a decision that is wrong AND causes additional hardships to a prisoner, you don’t see anyone passing legislation to remedy that.

In addition, this new piece of pandering to the conservatives comes at a time when California prisons have been found to be unconstitutional because the conditions there equate to cruel and unusual punishment, as discussed in another entry on ParoleNow.com.

But why bother with facts and realities when you can try and instill fear in the electorate and get your name in the newspaper?

If you have a loved one in prison, write or call your legislator and tell then you don’t support this piece of legislation.






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