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The terrible aftermath of Marsy’s Law

January 26, 2009

Introduction by Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners

Charisse Shumate, a founding member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, died fighting for the rights of all prisoners. For Freedom Archives’ documentary about her, “Fighting for Our Lives,” contact CCWP.
Charisse Shumate, a founding member of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, died fighting for the rights of all prisoners. For Freedom Archives’ documentary about her, “Fighting for Our Lives,” contact CCWP.
In the months leading up to the Nov. 4 election, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners was part of a statewide effort by advocacy groups to educate voters about the terrible impact Proposition 9 would have on prisoners and parolees if it passed. Unfortunately, it passed by a 53-47 percent vote. Now life-term prisoners – lifers – are beginning to experience its effects. On Jan. 14, when political prisoner Hugo Pinnell appeared before the Parole Board, he was told to come back in 15 years!

Legal challenges, public education and grassroots mobilization are the only ways Proposition 9 will be overturned. The UC Davis School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic and Federal Public Defender have filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the 15-year parole denial element of Prop 9 on a constitutional basis.

They have asked for an injunction, and they have a hearing date of Jan. 30 before federal Judge Karlton. TiPS (Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety) filed a suit on Dec. 31, 2008, in Sacramento Superior Court asking the court to issue an order to block the entire proposition because it is an unfunded mandate and therefore can’t be implemented. The article that follows by political prisoner Sara Olson graphically explains how people inside the prisons are experiencing the aftermath of Prop 9.

Proposition 9: What the voters passed

by Sara Olson, Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF)

In the 2008 election, while the public’s attention was focused on electing the nation’s first African-American president, not many besides prisoners, their families and advocacy groups noticed the passage of Proposition 9, a.k.a. Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law is a disaster for life-term prisoners – lifers – who must face the reactionary state Parole Board (Board of Parole Hearings or BPH) in order to secure a parole date. While few lifers were given parole dates before Marsy’s Law, now parole for lifers could well become a relic of the past.

A lifer must appear many times before the BPH before a date is granted. If a date is granted, a prisoner must wait for 150 days to find out whether or not the current governor will block their date, an inherently politicized decision. In between parole denials, inmates get rollovers. A rollover is the time between one parole hearing and the next.

Before, rollovers were for one to two years. They could be given for five years if a prisoner was convicted of first or second degree murder but that was not usual. Marsy’s Law sets 15 years as the standard rollover. Thus, a lifer sent to prison in her early 20s has her first parole hearing at 40 years old and she is rolled over for 15 years. At 55, she gets rolled over for 15 years once again.

While Marsy’s law allows for rollovers from three to 15 years, it sets strict standards for the board to shorten the denial period. Only if there is “clear and convincing evidence” can the board decide to give a rollover of three (highly unlikely), five, seven or 10 years.

Essentially, Marsy’s law converts a life term to LWOP (Life Without Possibility of Parole). It eliminates hope and removes all incentive to rehabilitate. The potential for 15-year rollovers tells inmates’ families, “They’re never coming home.” It destroys family ties.

Proposition 9 has many other harmful provisions. It states that the Department of Corrections cannot reduce sentences or call for early release of prisoners to reduce overcrowding despite the fact that overcrowding is at an explosive level in California. It requires that a notice of parole hearings be sent to any victim of any felony for which the prisoner has been convicted, including any crime leading to the life term as well as any other felonies. It increases the number of victims’ affiliates permitted to attend parole consideration hearings, eliminating the previous requirement that representatives have a specified relationship to the victim of the crime.

Prop 9 limits parolees’ rights, too. A federal judge granted an injunction to stop the implementation of these portions of Marsy’s Law in response to a motion that argued that Prop 9 “eliminates parolees’ guarantee of counsel except in narrow circumstances, eliminates the ability to confront certain witnesses at parole hearings and restricts consideration of alternatives to prison … [It] purports to eliminate nearly all due process rights of parolees and directly conflicts with the protections put in place by … established constitutional law.”

A friend of mine went to her first documentation hearing before the BPH. The documentation hearing is a lifer’s first appearance before a commissioner who explains the function of the board and tells her what will be expected of her for actual parole consideration. The commissioner looked through her Central File. In it, he found a 115, which is a disciplinary write-up. He asked her, “What’s this?” He was very concerned. So was she. She had never gotten a 115. Suddenly, she noticed that the name on the 115 wasn’t hers. She pointed this out to the commissioner. He then asked, “Wha-? How’d this get in your file?” Exactly.

Lifers say that attorneys’ attitudes are changing. They are giving up because of Marsy’s Law. Why try when nobody the state appoints them to represent will get a date? Prisoners with board hearing dates come into the prison law library and ask, “How do I replace my state-appointed lawyer? He won’t help me. I can feel it.”

One lifer said that she heard an attorney say, “There’s no hope and the board wants ‘good girl’ chronos to show the prisoner joined prison organizations and participated in projects or showed up to work day after day, year after year. They want certificates of completion for vocation and educational classes, a GED and on and on – all ‘pretend’ accomplishments, ‘pretend’ in the sense that the commissioners pretend they ever made a difference in granting a parole date. Soon there’ll be no AA or NA classes for lifers because they’re never getting out anyway but they’ll still be asked to do book reports from self-help books to prove that they’re sincere about rehabilitation.”

After realizing how catastrophic Marsy’s Law will be for her chance to parole, one lifer I know at CCWF wrote: “The Board wants you to prove you’re rehabilitated, to prove that you’re remorseful and to make amends. They want you to change. How can you now? The victim’s family will never change. They don’t care if you do because they get to be your judge, jury and executioner thanks to Prop 9.”

Send our sister some love and light: Sara Olson, W-94197, 506-10-04L, CCWF, P.O. Box 1508, Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508. For more information about Proposition 9 or to become involved with the effort to defeat it, contact the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, 1540 Market St., Suite 490, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 255-7036, ext. 314, info@womenprisoners.org. If you are in the Bay Area and have a family member or friend who is impacted by Proposition 9, please contact us for possible participation in a townhall community meeting.

Political prisoner Hugo Pinell denied parole for 15 years due to Prop 9

by Kiilu Nyasha and Claude Marks

Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, one of Black Panther Field Marshall George Jackson’s closest comrades, talks with a visitor at Pelican Bay State Prison in 2001 behind the glass and inside the visiting cell.
Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, one of Black Panther Field Marshall George Jackson’s closest comrades, talks with a visitor at Pelican Bay State Prison in 2001 behind the glass and inside the visiting cell.
The California Parole Board held a parole hearing for Hugo Pinell, known as Yogi, on Jan. 14 at which they denied him parole and scheduled him to return to the board in 15 years! Previous denials had been no more than two years, an earlier one five years. So what has changed?

In November, the last state election, voters passed Proposition 9. Under Proposition 9, people serving indeterminate life sentences who come up before the Parole Board and are denied parole could be denied a subsequent hearing for up to 15 years. Prop 9 increases the time between parole hearings for life-term convicts from one to five years to three to 15 years, for no good reason.

Proposition 9 argued that people convicted of serious crimes are being released from prison easily and frequently. This simply is not the case. At present, about 30,000 people are serving life sentences. Approximately 4,000 of those apply for parole each year, going before a two-member panel for a parole recommendation. Only about 2 percent are given a favorable decision and, of those, the governor rejects two-thirds. Thus, fewer than 1 percent receive release dates in a given year. As an example, in 2006, only 23 prisoners with indeterminate sentences were granted parole, fewer than 0.5 percent of those eligible for release.

Hugo Pinell has been in Pelican Bay SHU – no phone calls, no contact visits, isolation 24/7, no windows or natural light, very restricted possessions, visits limited to less than an hour and only on weekends and holidays with him in a “phone booth” – for19 years. He was in other California lockups – San Quentin, Folsom, Corcoran – for 38 years and in prison a total of 45. He’s had clean time – no write-ups – for 25 years.

Pelican Bay is isolated in the Northwest corner of California, a very long trip by car – the only means of getting there. His mother, now 87, has health problems but has continued to make that long trip to visit her son, now 64 years old. Can you even imagine how she’ll react to this horrible news?

Georgia of California Prison Focus called from Pelican Bay to say that Yogi’s handling it well, although he’s very sad, understandably, and very worried about his mom.

We have to stop this in its tracks. This is absolutely outrageous!

Kiilu Nyasha, Black Panther veteran, revolutionary journalist and Bay View columnist, hosts the TV talk show Freedom Is a Constant Struggle every Friday at 7:30 p.m. on SF Live, San Francisco cable channel 76. She can be reached at Kiilu2@sbcglobal.net. Contact Claude Marks at Freedom Archives, 522 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94110, (415) 863-9977, Freedomarchives.org or claude@freedomarchives.org. To learn more about Yogi and help bring him home, visit HugoPinell.org.

43 thoughts on “The terrible aftermath of Marsy’s Law

  1. Natalie

    This is terrible. I knew it was a bad proposition, but I didn’t even know about the 15 year thing. Hugo Pinell and Sara Olson and others should be freed immediately!

    Reply
  2. Dave

    "His mother, now 87, has health problems but has continued to make that long trip to visit her son, now 64 years old. Can you even imagine how she’ll react to this horrible news?" Probably the same way she felt when she heard what her son had done to his victims. Next time she visits her son in prison she should definately thank HIM for starting the whole thing. But don't worry he'll get out eventually…in a pine box. Burn.

    Reply
    1. John Doe

      Unless you know my mother-in-law, don't assume anything or what she thinks! I make this trip with her and my wife sometimes, and yes it is hard for the family to make this trip! Only the Good Lord know's why Hugo is in there, but I'll tell you that it doesn't help when he interacts with all these anti-american hate groups!!!! It does'nt help the family at all!!!!! The thing that get's me is also that my mother-in-law is never memtioned and nobody know anything about us and that Hugo is not BLACK !!!!!! No body ever asked my mother-in-law what she thought about this claim by the black panther movement.

      Reply
  3. Mom of 2

    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time! If you kill somebody in cold blood, you don't deserve life. End of story. What's outrageous is how long it takes people on death row to have their appeals get exhausted. We should take a cue from Florida and Texas. That would clear out some of the overcrowding in the prisons.

    Reply
    1. stephanie

      Firt of all, don't judge every event! They are so many people in prison that were wrongfully convicted and are surving time that is crazy…… but until it happens in your world and house hold you prince or princess don't judge! ONLY GOD CAN!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
  4. Mom of 2

    Natalie: Sara Olson kicked a pregnant teller in the stomach, causing a miscarriage. She also shot and killed Myrna Opsahl, mother of 4 depositing money for her church. She also rigged 2 police cars with pipe bombs that would have killed not only the officers in the cars, but dozens of innocent bystanders, had they not been found in time. Why, pray tell, should she be freed? She should have ridden the lightning 30 years ago!

    Reply
  5. Brit Boy

    This sounds like terrible blow to those prisoners whose only salvation is to be free again one day. Surely the parole board should stop dangerous prisoners being released, they don’t need a 15 year ‘roll-over’? Taking away a persons hope is the ultimate punishment, and whilst some offenders deserve that, most do not IMO.

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  6. best friend

    People need to do their research before they post a comment! My friend is doing a 7 to life sentence for unarmed burglery. He went to jail when he was 18. This was his first offense. There are inmates doing life sentences for non-violent crimes. There should be different parole rules for violent and non-violent crimes. How is a murder charge the same as a burglery charge? This law is what happens when ignorant people vote without researching the facts. California's prisons are overcrowded because the parole board does not care. All members of the board get a huge paycheck- why should they care how much it costs taxpayers to keep prisons full. As the inmates lose hope of release they will turn to violence. How does this help anyone?

    Reply
    1. stephanie

      That is so crazy, i'm with you one hundred. If you do the crime do the time……….My son went to YA for a non violent crime and as an adult got convicted of burglery which was really recieving stolen property(2 Cell phones) but any event he recieved 53yrs to life, come on are you killing me. Give him time for his crime not for his race or just being vendictive JUDGE!

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    2. pam

      It cracks me up the people say burglery is not a violent crime thats cuz no one is home but what would happen it someone came home during the burglery believe me as a victim I can contest any prisoner that committed a crime any crime should have considered the consequents before hand they put there selves in there and now they want to cry oh poor me they don’t treat me right sorry Charley you are only treated the way criminals should be treated Me personal think you have it to good

      Reply
  7. Britboy1971

    I’m no expert on US criminal law, but locking up people who pose no danger to the general public, for the rest of their lives is simply barbaric. Please don’t think I’m being disrespectful towards the victims of crimes, ofcourse people who commit crimes deserve to be punished. However there is something inhuman about sentencing someone to a slow agonising death in an overcrowded jail with minimal rights, healthcare or hope. I’m thankful to live in a country that’s progressed beyond such ‘medieval’ treatment of human beings, but I do have faith that California and other US states will ultimately follow suit and bring in more humane punishments for those that make mistakes.

    Reply
    1. Kay's Mama

      When your child is murdered and you NEVER get to see that child again then call it barbaric. What is barbaric to me is that her murderer will one day get out, but she will never come home from the cemetery. While in prison, he gets to visit with his family. He can write them letters and talk to them on the phone. I would love to hear my daughter's voice again or read a note from her. Maybe nonviolent crimes should have considerations but murderers need to be executed.

      Reply
  8. mary Post author

    Thanks, best friend, for your testimony and Britboy for putting this – yes, barbaric – practice in perspective. We Americans need to see ourselves as others see us. And where is our cruelty taking us? Direct to bankruptcy court.

    Mary Ratcliff, editor
    SF Bay View

    Reply
  9. California

    Best friend you are either misinformed as to the facts of your friends case or intentionally leaving them out…in California there is no 7 to life for a burglary. Further, there is no such crime as an unarmed burglary.

    Reply
  10. best friend

    California, I am extremely informed. However, you are not.First, when someone commits a crime without useing a weapon it is called being unarmed. Second, if something is stolen it is burglery/robbery. Understand? Now that you have the proper understanding of the crime commited, let me explain further the sentence. My friend walked up to a lady who had just finished a transaction at an ATM machine. He told her to hand over the money. She did,and it was all caught on camera. The woman (victim) told the police that she was not afraid for her life, and that no weapon was involved. The district attorney told him he would do 25 years or more if the case went to trial, but if he took their deal (7 to life)he would be out in 7 years. So, he took the deal. The victim has been present at every parole hearing to testify on his behalf. She has made it very clear that she does not agree with the punishment. The parole board has an excuse at every hearing as to why parole is denied. One year they said he didn’t have the skills needed to function on the outside- even though he has had a job in prison. Another year, he was told that they don’t believe he has enough support on the outside to succeed. One excuse after another. Now he will have to wait 15 years for each excuse. As he gets older he looses the chance to make a life outside of prison. Now that you have been informed of the facts, take a moment to think before you post a response.

    FYI- in California the district attorney can make up any sentence they choose.

    Reply
  11. Shannon Marie

    just to give u a basic overview of my dads situation he was drunk driving and totalled his car

    his best frined jose was in the passenger seat

    jose didnt die or have any serious injury hes completly fine he just wants money or possiably my dads home so he signed papers stating he was hurt

    please if u can help in anyway possable e mail me

    p2shannonbms@yahoo.com

    u can find me on myspace aswell if thats simpler

    thank you

    Reply
  12. Patrick Sullivan

    Do these instances of harsh treatment and torture reflect an attempt by the ‘powers that be’ to seek a perfection of brutality?

    Are the people who operate the war crimes cartel and have built these torture systems in an attempt to perfect brutality really the type of Minds that should have the power over life and death over the mass of the human race?

    At what moment in time are we going to remove from power the central bankers and disassemble their prison camps, torture chambers and their nuclear war machine?

    Before or after they detonate over our heads these tens of thousands of nuclear weapons that they designed to demonstrate once and for all, who is the most perfect of them all?

    Reply
  13. Julie Smith

    Not sure everyone understands. Marcy’s Law means the board has to start with a 15 year denial. If the inmate programs well and doesn’t get in trouble, than they consider 10 years. If the inmate has family support, a job, place to live, then they consider 7 years. The board looks at how much time the inmate has done and how much “they feel” the inmate has come to terms with the crime and if they’re remorse is sincere. Please understand not everyone is getting a 15 year “rollover.” Also know that if an inmate is given the 15 years they have the opportunity to be re-evaluated after 3 years and if at that time the board feels they may suitable they will order a new hearing. As to California’s post I’m wondering was your friend a 3rd striker? I am familiar with sentencing and have never heard of that but depends on when sentenced and perhaps other factors – most people don’t get life for burglary. Plea bargains though is one way several are convicted harshly. Also not everyone convicted of murder has committed a murder, if we continue to keep inmates locked up because they don’t deserve to go home – the prisons will forever stay overcrowded. Murderer’s will never “deserve” their freedom but there are so many factors – each case is different.

    Reply
  14. mother of 4

    um . . . why is this bad? oh, poor, poor criminals in jail. so sad! are their rights being violated? wtf, people! they should be paroled–why? so they can enjoy the freedom that they stole from their victims and their victims’ families? so they can collect more victims?? again, wtf, people? get a grip. they and their families ought to be grateful that they have been spared the death penalty. this just goes to show how deeply twisted and selfish these people are. they can never be rehabilitated.

    Reply
  15. best friend

    Julie Smith: Thanks for your post. To answer your question: No, my friend was not a third striker. This was his first offense. As for the board…they could care less about every single inmate. To the parole board each inmate is just another number. They don’t even allow family to speak on behalf of the inmate. They take a look at the inmates file at the time of the hearing-not before. They don’t research anything. They just make a decision. Who really knows what it’s based on. It is very sad.

    As for MOTHER OF 4…. I guess I will take it easy on you. Clearly you are a little slow. I’m wondering if you even read anyone elses’ posts?? Go back and READ! Not everyone affected by this law hurt someone. This law needs to be corrected to seperate the violent and non violent crimes.

    Please read the posts and do your research before posting a comment.

    Reply
  16. best friend

    Here we go again….. I just wish that people would READ what has been posted and then respond. Is that too much to ask? I never implied that the victim wasn't tramatized. I'm sure she was. However, I did say that there was not any violence during the act. My stance has remained the same.

    #1: People should be punished for their crimes.

    #2: Marsy's Law should apply to violent crimes.

    I can't put it any more simply. Ask yourself this:

    Is it really fair for a first time offender of a non-violent crime to have the same punishment as a person who commits a violent crime?????

    To NEXT,I find it extremely funny that you went through all that trouble to post a comment and still came out sounding ignorant. From your post it seems that you are intelligent, but you have still failed to READ fully what others have posted. I'm not even sure if you took the time to read all of my posts. If you had you would have responded in a better fashion. I encourage you to take the time to fully read and absorb the posts. Not once have I posted a comment minimizing the crime commited or the victims feelings.

    I enjoy reading all opinions that are posted on this site, and I welcome more of yours in the future. All I ask of you is the same thing I ask of others. Please READ and then post your comment. This is not a contest of wits. My posts are designed to enhance the understanding of Marcy's Law. This law should not be a one size fits all. It should be ammended to exclude inmates who commited non violent crimes. They should still have a chance at parole every two years. Violent criminals should be given the opportunity every 15 years. Clearly our prison system isn't working the way it is. California is drowning in debt and this law is making it worse. This state is known for letting sexual predators out of prison,and yet criminals that commit non violent crimes are subject to a 15 year waiting period. DO you really think things are being handled correctly?

    Reply
    1. pam

      A criminal a criminal and are just judge by there own behavioral when the parole board make there decision or determined the next hearing date is all depended on there own behavioral which is in the file they read at the time of the hearing if they want to blame the parole board that’s a prefect example of why they will not be paroled. The first step is all about taking responsibility for your own actions.

      Reply
  17. next

    best friend, I need to correct you on something – WHEN YOU ROB SOMEONE, YOU ARE HURTING THEM!!! You may have meant to say “not everyone affected by this law killed or physically injured someone” but who the hell are you to say how someone is affected when they are robbed, even without a gun. Was your friend, who committed the “unarmed burglary” a male or female, was s/he bigger, younger, scarier looking than his/her “unharmed” victim? Who are you to presume that someone who is robbed at an ATM isn’t hurt? At a minimum they are hurt financially but they are also hurt emotionally as they will experience a paranoia from that point on that they never felt prior. Btw, according to what you described about your friend’s criminal activity, it is not a burglary but a robbery. The act of burglary is when one enters a premise and steals, robbery, what your friend committed, is when you steal from a person (now YOU are informed). It’s beyond ridiculous that you are on here denigrating anyone who has an opposing view as you and minimizing the severity of crimes against another human being. You may oppose the prop but to minimize the damage done to a victim of a crime is extremely ignorant and callous. Please stop calling other people deficient and acting pious when you are clearly not intellectually superior.

    Reply
  18. mother of 4

    well best friend, thanks for taking it easy on me. I would appreciate it if you and all of your criminal friends would also take it easy on the rest of the world by keeping your greedy, immoral hands to yourselves, and quit whining while the law-abiding citizens subsidizing their remorseless existence. It really is ironic that you think Marsy’s Law removes incentive for prisoners to reform themselves. Ha! WHAT INCENTIVE HAVE THEY EVER HAD? May I remind you WHY these people are in jail??? They have been convicted 3 times!! I would point out the obvious, that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Perhaps you could better spend your time educating yourself and your other friends who have managed so far to avoid incarceration (since they haven’t been caught yet) about CHARACTER. Unfortunately, I have direct experience as a victim of both violent and “non-violent” crimes, and let me tell you, they both hurt, and it is NOT OK. I am not sorry that people who commit crimes get punished. Frankly most of them do not get ENOUGH punishment, and they go right back out and do it again. Over and over. Good for California and its 3 strikes. Too bad we have to give them THAT many chances.

    Reply
  19. mother of 4

    Yeah, sucks to get stuck in the system and get punished more than is fair.

    Sucks also to be minding your own business, living your own life, bothering no one, and get robbed/assaulted/raped/burgled/killed.

    Gee, how can we stop this unfair punishment of law-abiding citizens?

    Reply
  20. best friend

    Mother of 4,

    I would like to say that I am sorry you have gone through some bad experiences in your life. No one deserve to be treated unjustly. I too have been a victim of a very violent crime. My aggressor was never punished. Silly that you think I must be a criminal to have compassion for certain inmates. If it was one of your children in the same situation you just might feel differently. There are many people who commit crimes and never get caught. Some of those people continue commiting crimes until they are caught and others learn from their mistakes. I’m sure you have done something wrong at some point in your life. You were never caught.If one of your kids got caught stealing something from the store, and as punishment their hand was cut off, would you feel the same? I doubt it. I think it’s time for you to see a counselor. It is very unhealthy to harbour such foul feelings. Talking about what happened to you and learning the tools to overcome will help you be a happier person for you and your children. I sincerely hope you get the help you need.

    Reply
  21. Next

    best friend, if your objective is to enlighten people on the shortcomings of Marsy’s law, then stick to the facts without the name calling. You have insulted every person who has an opposing point of view. How is that enlightening? If your objective is to put everyone down who disagrees then by all means, keep up the insults but you will not sway anyone to even consider your point of view when you call people ignorant simply because you can’t come up with a convincing argument. And to continue to tell people to READ the posts is more than just redundant, it’s short-sighted on your part. You assume that because you haven’t swayed us with your insults, we haven’t “READ” the posts correctly. I DID read your posts, very thoroughly. YOU need to RE-READ YOUR posts. You wrote, and I quote: “Go back and READ! Not everyone affected by this law hurt someone” so, yes you did, in fact say that some crimes did not hurt people, which is WHY I posted the response I did. Please don’t flatter yourself and think that I would (or even need to) spend any significant amount of time to review the comments posted. It’s quite easy and fast to review and comprehend these comments in an intelligent manner.

    If your point is that the law isn’t fair, is applied unfairly or affects people unfairly, that’s possible. Life isn’t fair so of course people aren’t all treated equally or, in some cases, fairly. You have a hard time convincing people because most of us don’t like criminals. Can they be rehabilitated, some can, some can’t. Some are in fact innocent people, wrongly convicted. Those are indeed tragedies but it’s more often than not that criminals get much lighter sentences because of the very reasons you pose: overcrowding, financial deficits, so many cases to prosecute, prosecutors plead out when possible rather than go to trial. And when a rapist spends 5 years in prison and then gets out and murders a 17y.o. it’s hard for people to see the flaw in a law designed to help keep victims safe from further victimization. I think one thing most people can agree on, when a criminal commits a crime that put him away for a long time, the list of people hurt is much greater than the victim they perpetrated the crime against, the criminal’s family is also affected so I understand your frustration but again it’s going to be hard to sway people to have a lot of sympathy for the criminal, esp when he or his supporters minimize the crime, which has been done here on this message board a number of times.

    Reply
  22. Julie Smith

    I would just like to say, I am a mother also. Leaving sex crimes aside, the people in prison are people too. Some were victims themselves and killed for survival. I am familiar with the prison environment and I can tell you the commissioners do the review the file before the hearing. As for them not caring about the inmate that may be true.
    The point is we all want dangerous people off our streets, and we don’t think murderers deserve to be set free. I agree they will never “deserve” it. However, you – we are all paying for their food, shelter, and clothing. Their incarceration is ar our expense – so if they no longer pose a threat to society – let the burden fall on their families who want them home, Give them ankle bracelets – it has to be cheaper and you have no idea how much the sick are costing us. We are broke and the prisons are overcrowded something has to be done

    Reply
  23. Joe Atkins

    Okay, my son has been in prison since he was 19,(conviced in 1998) he is now 31, he is in for a kidnapping charge in which no one was hurt and no violence occured. He got 7 to life with no prior convictions at all. He has paid for his mistakes and I think prop 9 is unjust and should only be applied to those who murder and very violent criminals. My son has met every requirement to meet parole,but instead was given a 7 year denial. Can anyone help us???

    Reply
  24. Julie Smith

    Joe,
    First your son has to be disciplinary free, which sounds like he is. You have to file a Writ of Habeous Corpus (not sure about that spelling). When he goes to board and if he is found not suitable, he can petition the court that his liberty rights are being violated. The board is “supposed” to set a release date if the inmate is programming well. The courts can then request an order to show cause to the governor. He may get ordered a new hearing. There was a published decision called “Lawrence v Schwarzenegger (again spelling) where the inmate won in court stating she had met all the requirements and the board had to have other reasons other than the crime itself to find them unsuitable. Just for the record – I am not a lawyer. There are time constraints I think has to be done within a year of the denial. Really should consult a lawyer – one who is familiar with the prison system.

    Reply
  25. Miss My Husband and Daddy

    Well sorry to rain on your parade but as the survivor of my husband and father of four’s murder, I think it’s about time victims had a voice – perhaps we’ll eventually have less violent crime as they do in most jurisdictions were victims participate in the process. My husband will NEVER get to come back home, love our children (the littlest was only 18 months when he was shot in the back by his long time harasser) or enjoy a cuddle and hug – EVER. Personal accountability is at an all time low – potetential victimziers – think BEFORE you destroy the lives of a victim and their family – then you’ll have less time to be forced to think about it after it’s too late.

    Reply
  26. mother of 4

    Joe, I’m sure it must be very hard on you for your son to be in prison; I’m sorry. However, it is outrageous to say that no one was hurt in a kidnapping. Clearly, you have never been kidnapped, nor had a loved one kidnapped. If you had, you would NEVER say such a thing. Kidnapping is a horrible, violent crime. It is terrifying for the victim and likely had changed their life forever. Sorry but that was a horrible horrible decision on your son’s part, and one I suspect his victim will NEVER recover from.

    Reply
  27. Joe Atkins

    understand where you’re coming from, but in my case it is not outrageous to make the comment that my son did not hurt anyone. I say this because I know the circumstances of the case. My son was charged with kidnapping, sodomy, rape, forced oral copulation, etc. these were all proved wrong by DNA evidence; and the so called victim lied about those things. There was a mis-trial and the judge told the jury to come up with something, so they stuck him with kidnapping. The victim continued to be a street person on drugs with her boyfriends sperm in her proved by DNA.

    So you have your opinion and I will have mine, because my son did not harm anyone, this was truly a travesty of justice. The victim is fine and still continues to be a street person on drugs.

    Reply
  28. mother of 4

    It certainly sounds horrible, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you. Of course I don’t know your case or how your son came to be involved in such a situation. However, it having.a judge tell a jury to find something seems outrageous–a situation of corruption, rather than result of Marsy’s Law.

    Reply
  29. nvartist

    It seems to make sense to me that if you want to avoid life in prison, here's a thought, don't commit murder or rape or whatever it takes to get life in prison. It baffles my mind that people care more for the person in prison than the person they harmed to get there. What about the families torn apart by what this person did? Seriously? It sounds like a good Proposition to me. All arguments that people can get rehabilitated are lost on me when I see people with huge rap sheets out committing more crimes over and over and over. What about the girls who were killed in San Diego recently? They were killed again by a repeated offender. It is always people living in high end neighborhoods who want criminals released because they will not be affected. If your child, sister, brother, mother, father were killed by someone, are you telling me you are going to care about the person who did it? I suggest those who disagree with the proposition all go move to some happy little island somewhere and make their funky laws and take all the prisoners with you.

    Reply
    1. Sunshine

      I in no way am trying to minimize the great loss that the victims and their families are suffering. However, I support rehabilitation for non-repeat offenders who were minors at the time they committed their crimes. You have no idea what a child's life is like when they grow up with gangs, drugs, and violence as their only example! Not all criminals had this situation. Some, however, are products of the neighbors they grew up in and had no choice in! With NO ONE to teach you right or wrong. With adult gang members calling all the shots.

      NOT ALL CASES ARE THE SAME!

      Reply
  30. Sunshine

    EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT! Every individual is different. Maybe some of the people who are so ready to lock everyone away and melt the key down should spend time growing up in a neighborhood where violence and gang life are the norm. Children don't get to choose their parents or their neighborhood. Some of these criminals being affected grew up in areas that most of you would not even consider driving through, let alone raising your kids in. Kids make mistakes (sometimes horrible ones) that they can't take back. Marcy's law means that prisoners that are no longer a threat to society and made horrible mistakes when they were not even old enough to vote or buy cigarettes, will never have a chance to try and give back some of what they took from society. Instead, they will sit in prison with the other prisoners and guards (who raised them, BTW) and feel no hope for ever being released.

    And FYI to all of you. The board likes to pretend that they review files. They make papers disappear that have been submitted to and signed for by the prison (thank goodness for signature receipts from the post office). Then they tell prisoners that they have no support letters, no place to live, and should not even bother trying at release. When someone finally gets a date, which is highly unlikely, the governor sends a letter saying no, with the only reason being the nature of the crime, which is never going to change.

    Interestingly enough, the CDCR's own statistics show that when prisoners have served 20+ years in prison, there is only a 1% chance of them ever re-offending, and that 1% re-offense is non-violent. Those are their own numbers. Check the website. If there is no chance, according to their own numbers, of re-offense by lifers released after 20+ years, why are those that have been doing what they are supposed to do, still in there. Especially those that were minors at the time of their crime and had no real chance in the first place!

    The families sit helplessly by not being able to help in any way, hoping for God's grace and mercy. Not all are well off enough to afford lawyers.

    Thanks! Everyone have a blessed day!

    Reply
  31. NAY

    WOW, EVERYone post is so interesting….First I agree with people if you take a life in cold blood, you should spend very long in prison, but she is right about the laws and how unfair it is..My husband was charged with robbery/kidnap. Basically he took a bb gun and robbed an establishment at 16, and since he made employees re enter the store, it is considered kidnap…at the age of 16 years old, he was sentenced to 7 years to life…14 years later, perfect inmate and the parole board continues to deny, while murderers who don't have life behind their sentence are freed…The laws are senseless and unfair at times, and it appears they do things intentionally to cause disaster. My husband is 30 years old….wow, in 15 years he will be 45 years old…for a bb gun…does that sound like justice?

    Reply

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