California Budget Crisis Results in Increased Parole Releases

The number of state prison parolees freed from supervision under California parole law has dramatically increased in recent months. This is result of a new law that allows parolees who were last arrested for a non violent or non sexual offense, to be discharged from parole supervision in as little as six months. They were previously required to wait at least one year before they could be taken off parole.

In April 2012, approximately 8,500 parolees were taken off of parole supervision. Only 1,300 were released in March by contrast. The increase in the amount of convicts being taken off parole is a direct response to sharp state government budget cuts in California and the widespread outcry against prison overcrowding in California.

Once a parolee is taken off of parole supervision, a parolee will receive fewer rehabilitation services such as counseling, drug intervention, and housing assistance. These services are designed to ease the parolee’s transition back into society. Taking a parolee off of parole supervision also limits the ability of police to monitor the parolee’s conduct.

As a result, many law enforcement officials feel that this drastic increase in parole release will result in recidivism (repeated commission of crimes by released convicts). While California parole law is known to change rapidly, the State’s budget crisis will not be a quick fix. Thus, law enforcement officials are expecting an even greater increase in parole releases in the latter half of 2012.

California's New Non-revocable Parole Program

March 12, 2010

In an effort to

  • improve parole supervision,

  • relieve California’s over-crowded prisons, and

  • reduce recidivism (that is, the number of people who are released from prison and go on to commit new crimes),

the California Department of Corrections recently launched a new program…non-revocable parole.

When a parolee allegedly violates his/her parole conditions, he/she is entitled to a California parole revocation hearing. At that hearing, the hearing commissioner determines whether there is enough evidence to revoke the parolee’s status and return him/her to the California state prison.

However, under the non-revocable parole program, certain parolees will not attend California parole revocation hearings. Individuals who are placed on non-revocable parole will only be returned to prison if they are arrested for a new offense…and only if they are convicted of that offense in the same manner as any other criminal defendant.

In addition, parolees on the non-revocable parole program don’t report to a parole officer. They do, however, remain subject to warrantless searches by the police.

California's So-Called "Mandatory" Parole Law

March 12, 2010

California essentially subscribes to a mandatory parole program. In theory, this means that all eligible inmates who come up for parole will be granted parole. In reality, this means something completely different.

You see, before a “lifer” is placed on parole, he/she must appear before the parole board for a California Board of Parole “Lifer” Hearing. During one of these parole suitability or “lifer” hearings, the California parole board evaluates whether or not it believes that an inmate is “ready to be returned to society”.

Eligible parolees are supposed to be paroled unless they present an overriding public safety risk. What constitutes an “overriding public safety risk” is very discretionary and, as I’m sure you can imagine, very open to interpretation.

Although parole rates in the last few years have grown…due in large part to overcrowded California state prisons and the state’s budget crisis…certain classes of felons are surely more subject to scrutiny than others. It is these inmates who attend more than their share of hearings before being released on parole.

This is just one reason why it is so important to consult with a California criminal defense attorney who understands the most effective ways to convince the Board of Parole Hearings that you have been rehabilitated and are therefore ready and eager to become a “productive member of society”.