Nonviolent Offender Parole Hearings for Indeterminately‑Sentenced Persons

Overview

A nonviolent offender parole hearing is a parole suitability hearing for an incarcerated person sentenced to an indeterminate term (life with the possibility of parole) under an alternative sentencing scheme (such as California’s Three Strikes Law) for a nonviolent offense. Under this parole hearing process, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation refers certain nonviolent offenders to the Board for a parole hearing and possible release, once the person has served the full term of his or her primary offense. All of the general information about parole suitability hearings is applicable to nonviolent offender parole hearings. For general information about parole suitability hearings, go to the Parole Suitability Hearings page.

The nonviolent offender parole hearing process was enacted by emergency regulations filed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation that took effect on January 1, 2019. Implementation of nonviolent offender parole review hearings was mandated by the passage of Proposition 57, The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, approved by the voters in November 2016. See also In re Edwards (Sept. 7, 2018, B288086) __Cal.App.4th__ [237 Cal.Rptr.3d 673]. Referrals of nonviolent offenders to the Board for parole hearings began in January 2019.

Incarcerated Persons Who Are Eligible for a Nonviolent Offender Parole Hearing

Only nonviolent persons sentenced to an indeterminate term (life with the possibility of parole) are eligible for a nonviolent parole hearing. The person must have completed the full term of his or her primary offense, which is the single crime for which a court imposed the longest term of imprisonment. For purposes of determining a person’s primary offense, the term of imprisonment for inmates sentenced to a life term under an alternative sentencing scheme for a nonviolent crime shall the be the maximum term applicable by statute to the underlying nonviolent offense. Additionally, the person cannot have a conviction for a violent felony (as defined in Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (c)) associated with their current incarceration. Persons who are required to register as a sexual offender under Penal Code section 290 are also not eligible for a nonviolent offender parole hearing.

Persons sentenced to an indeterminate term for nonviolent offenses will be reviewed for eligibility for a nonviolent offender parole hearing by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Once a person is determined to be eligible for the process, the department will determine when the person will have served the full term of their primary offense. This date is called the persons nonviolent parole eligible date (NPED). Persons who are reviewed will be provided written notice from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation of their eligibility and their nonviolent parole eligible date. Eligibility determinations are subject to appeal by a person through the department’s inmate appeals process.

When Eligible Indeterminately-Sentenced Nonviolent Persons Will be Referred to the Board of Parole Hearings for a Parole Suitability Hearing

At least 180 days before a person’s nonviolent parole eligible date, they will be referred to the Board for a parole suitability hearing and possible release. If the person has not already had a parole suitability hearing and is not scheduled to have one within 12 months pursuant to any other provision of law.

Persons will be provided written notice of the outcome of the referral decision by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Referral decisions are subject to appeal by the person through the department’s offender’s appeal process. Persons who are referred to the Board will be provided a written explanation of the Board’s parole suitability hearing process.

What to Expect After a Nonviolent Person is Referred to the Board of Parole Hearings for a Parole Suitability Hearing

Incarcerated persons will receive written notice about six months in advance of their parole suitability hearing date. Notices of the hearing will be sent to victims and their family members who are registered with the Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services. The Board will also send a notice to the district attorney’s office that prosecuted the offender. For more information about the parole suitability hearing process, check the Parole Suitability Hearings Overview page.

Victims

Victims who would like to request notice and an opportunity to attend a person’s parole suitability hearing or who would like to request notice of an person’s release must register with CDCR’s Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services. For further information, please visit CDCR’s Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services website or call toll-free 1-877-256-6877.