SACRAMENTO — The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled, Monday, that corrections officials need not consider earlier release for violent felons, even those whose primary offense is considered nonviolent under state law.

The ruling stems from inmates’ latest attempt to expand the application of an initiative championed by former Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by nearly two-thirds of voters in 2016.

But the high court ruled that corrections officials acted properly in drafting regulations that “exclude from nonviolent offender early parole consideration any inmate who ‘is currently serving a term of incarceration for a ‘violent felony.’”

The justices said that includes prisoners serving sentences for a combination of violent and nonviolent felonies.

“In reaching this conclusion, we find the constitutional text (of the ballot initiative) is ambiguous,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on behalf of the court.

However, the justices agreed with the corrections department’s argument that “the ballot materials reveal that the voters intended to exclude any inmate currently serving a term for a violent felony from early parole consideration, regardless of whether such an inmate has also been convicted of a nonviolent felony.”

The broadest interpretation of the lower court’s finding to the contrary would have required earlier release consideration for the vast majority of inmates, the department argued, since most are serving time for both violent and nonviolent felonies.

Proposition 57 allows most inmates to seek earlier paroles as a way to encourage rehabilitation and reduce mass incarceration. Parole boards can still choose not to allow individual earlier releases.

But Brown and other proponents told voters it would apply only to nonviolent offenders and exclude those convicted of sex crimes.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturned one appeals court ruling that would have invalidated the corrections department’s regulation that excluded inmates serving time for any violent crime, even it is not their primary offense.

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

""The ruling stems from inmates’ latest attempt (and Gavin Newsom's) to expand the application of an initiative championed by former Gov. Jerry Brown"" Ah Yes Jerry Brown (aka Moonbeam) another POS Democrat Governor (IMHO). Woke idiots like Gov.Brown and Gov.Newsom can get you killed if you live in California. If you enjoy "Mask mandates" "High crime rates" 'Handouts for illegal immigrants"..then a Woke Governor is for "you"....enjoy.

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