The California Supreme Court has ruled that thousands of sex offenders could be eligible for early release under a Democrat rule written four years ago.
The rule was created by then-Governor Jerry Brown, a far-left Democrat, and passed by two-thirds of the electorate.
The aim was to reduce the state’s prison population, saying any person guilty of what was deemed a “nonviolent felony offense” would be rewarded an early parole.
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“The initiative’s language provides no indication that the voters intended to allow the (Corrections) Department to create a wholesale exclusion from parole consideration based on an inmate’s sex offense convictions when the inmate was convicted of a nonviolent felony,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who was appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote in the unanimous decision.
Washingtonexaminer.com reports: Violent sex offenses in the state include rape and sodomy, for example, but the definition does not address offenses such as incest, indecent exposure, pimping, and possession of child pornography, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown supported the voter-approved initiative in 2014 to reduce prison populations but said he never intended for it to include sex offenders. Lower appeals courts had ruled nonviolent sex offenders could not be excluded, which were supported by the state’s Supreme Court.
Sacramento attorney Janice Bellucci said the ruling could allow about 20,000 inmates to receive parole consideration, though the court said the number is closer to 4,400 inmates.
Parole boards can still determine whether or not to allow an inmate an early release, which the high court said leaves corrections officials “with ample room to protect public safety.”