The voters passed the “Victim’s Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law” on November 4, 2008. Marsy’s Law changes the constitution of California (§ 28, Article I) to provide a general Victims’ Bill of Rights during criminal, juvenile and parole matters. Marsy’s Law changes Penal Code §§ 3041.5 and 3043 to expand victims’ rights in parole proceedings for prisoners sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. It applies to all hearings for the purpose of setting, postponing, or rescinding of life prisoner parole dates.
A view of the full copy of the text of the Victim’s Bill of Rights Act of 2008: Marsy’s Law (Proposition 9) is available from the California Secretary of State.
Marsy’s Law provides victims the following rights in life prisoner hearings:
- Expands the definition of “victim” related to who can attend a hearing to any victim of any felony crimes, or crimes against the person committed by the prisoner;
- Allows victims to attend hearings without being asked questions by the prisoner or the prisoner’s attorney, (includes the victim, the victim’s next of kin, family members and representatives);
- Expands the scope of persons entitled to a stenographic recording of the proceedings;
- Requires the Board of Parole Hearings (Board), when determining whether to release a prisoner on parole, to consider the entire and uninterrupted statements of the victims;
- Requires the Board, when denying parole to consider the victim’s safety, among other circumstances, in determining the length of the denial period;
- Upon request, requires the Board to send notice to victims, and victim’s next of kin where the victim died, 90 days prior to any hearing to review or consider the parole suitability or the setting of a parole date; and to confirm the date, time and place of the hearing no later than 14 days prior to the hearing date;
- Expands the scope of persons allowed to act as victim representatives at parole hearings, and allows representatives to make a statement even when the victim, or victim’s next of kin, also makes a statement;
- Victims will be noticed and may submit written statements concerning a prisoner’s request for advancement of his/her hearing date;
- Allows victims, victim’s next of kin and their representatives to make statements which reasonably express their views concerning the prisoner, including, but not limited to the crimes committed, the effect of the crimes on the victim and the victim’s family, and the prisoner’s suitability for parole; and
- Leaves intact other victim’s rights including but not limited to the Condit-Nolan Public Participation in Parole Act of 1984.
Marsy’s Law included changes to the procedural hearing rights of parolees who are facing revocation of parole. Along with hearing timeframes and setting forth the preponderance of evidence standard in parole revocation hearings, Marsy’s law also adds eligibility criteria for parolees to obtain an attorney for revocation proceedings at state expense. At this time, the state is under federal court order to refrain from implementing the Marsy’s law revocation changes, pending resolution of the matter in the class action lawsuit entitled Valdivia, et al v. Schwarzenegger, et al, U.S. District Court (Eastern District) Case No. 2:94-cv-00671-LKK-GGH.
If you would like to register as a victim of a crime in order to receive notice of future parole consideration hearings, please complete a Request for Victims Services form. The Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services will be able to assist you. You can also call the Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services at (877) 256-OVSS(6877).
Additionally, if you are a victim of a crime and would like to receive telephone and e-mail notification when the offender’s custody status changes please register with California Information and Notification Everyday (CA VINE). The CA VINE system is a service through which victims of crime can use the telephone or Internet to search for information regarding the custody status of their offender and receive notification of custody status changes. The CA VINE toll-free number is 1-877-411-5588.
Request Hearing Transcript
Within approximately 30 days upon completion of a prisoner’s hearing before the Board, a stenographic record (transcript) of the hearing will be available upon request. To learn more about how to obtain a verbatim copy of the hearing proceedings, please visit our Request for Parole Suitability Hearing Transcript page.
Contacting the Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services
The Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services will provide information regarding attendance at parole consideration hearings or notification concerning future hearings. They may be reached during normal business hours at their toll-free telephone number 1-877-256-OVSS (6877) or by Email, or at their mailing address:
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services
P.O. Box 942883
Sacramento, CA 94283-0001