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Bill Would Ask Parole Boards to Consider Age of Inmates

Sign that reads new law ahead

Two new laws would change how California parole boards consider the inmates standing before them, based on their ages. The laws, now awaiting signature by Gov. Jerry Brown, would also have the effect of further reducing the California prison population.

Senior inmates would be considered for parole

One potential new law would ask parole boards to consider release for older inmates. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a representative from San Diego, introduced the bill, which was approved by the state legislature. The law is based on a federal court order that asked California parole boards to consider releasing inmates who had served at least 25 years in prison and were aged 60 or older. Seven percent of all California prison inmates are aged 60 or over.

Supporters of the law have noted that many of these older inmates have health issues which the state is obligated to treat while they’re in prison, and that releasing these inmates would potentially save the state millions of dollars in healthcare costs. Additionally, many of them were imprisoned during an era when California’s lawmakers enacted a number of tough-on-crime policies which caused the ensuing years of prison overcrowding. If signed into law, the bill would exclude inmates who had been sentenced without the possibility of parole, inmates who had committed a third strike offense, ones who had murdered police officers, and those on death row.

Number of inmates eligible for youthful parole program could grow

The other potential new law would target inmates on the other end of the age range. The original youthful parole program passed in 2012 required that inmates who were aged 18 or younger when they committed their crime be considered for parole after serving at least 15 years of their sentence. That age was raised to 23, and the new version of the law would ask parole boards to consider inmates who were 25 or younger for parole after 15 years. These suggested changes are based in part on growing evidence that decision-making abilities and judgment are abilities that develop later in life than previously believed, and that these individuals stand a better chance of being rehabilitated if released early.

If you have been charged with a crime in Southern California, get dedicated and aggressive legal help by contacting Ventura criminal defense attorney Paul Tyler for a consultation on your case, at 805-889-9000.

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