Meet The Doorman
Timm Herdt | Ventura County Star
…Because of two Supreme Court decisions in 2008, record numbers of life-term inmates are being granted parole after undergoing intensive hearings in which they are found to be suitable for parole.
Since those rulings, there have been 2,462 grants of parole to life-term inmates. Over the previous 30 years combined, there had been 1,821. Last year alone, 670 such inmates were granted parole, a record.
Even with those climbing numbers of paroles, however, the process remains very selective. About 85 percent of parole hearings still end in denial…
“Brown has reviewed 130 decisions by the Board of Parole Hearings granting release to murderers sentenced to life with possible parole and has approved 106, or 81 percent, according to the governor’s office. He has vetoed 22 paroles and sent two back to the board for new hearings.
In comparison, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved about 30 percent of lifers’ paroles. Former Gov. Gray Davis – who declared early in his term that “if you take someone else’s life, forget it” – vetoed 98 percent of murderers’ parole cases he considered.”
Brown paroles more lifers than did predecessors –SF Chronicle, April 28, 2011
During his tenure, then-Gov. Gray Davis virtually eliminated the possibility of parole. Davis vowed that no murderer would ever be set free under his watch. He relented only slightly, and reversed all but 9 of the 371 parole grants he reviewed…
The high court ruled in 2002 that judges could review parole decisions to make certain they were based on “some evidence.” That was followed in 2008 by two decisions that delineated what that evidence must be — basically, “the current dangerousness” of an inmate…
During the first two years of his term, Gov. Jerry Brown allowed 971 grants of parole to stand and reversed 162. An administration official who works on the team that reviews grants of parole said Brown is committed to following the law, but his first priority is protecting public safety…(Full text at Ventura County Star)
Consistently missing from the dialog when discussing lifer parole grants is the Parole Board itself, the Governor’s role in selecting it and the Executives’ ability to control the flow of recommendations.
Part of the State’s laurels system is the Governor’s authority to seat a new Board of Parole Hearings. Those commissioners are his political appointees who are of like mind. Thus the Governor controls the spigot.
George Deukmejian never had the opportunity to allow “971 grants of parole to stand” –His Board of Prison Terms rarely granted parole.
Gray Davis ignored his Board.
Under Arnold Schwarzenegger:
- The Board of Parole Hearings granted release dates to 2113 life sentenced inmates from the time Governor Schwarzenegger took office on November 17, 2003 through December 2010.
- This equates to 1,563 more grants given under the Schwarzenegger administration, than over the previous 14 years under two different Governors. (Source: Crime Victims Action Alliance)
So, Jerry Brown doesn’t simply “allow” grants of parole formulated by some nebulous council–His hand-picked hacks grant parole per his policies from which he picks the winners, as it were, just as Schwarzenegger did. Were the Deukmejian crew still seated, neither Brown nor his predecessor would have broken a single record.