Non-Violent, Non-Sex-Registrant, Second-Strike Review Process
On February 10, 2014, the Three Judge Panel in the Plata/Coleman class action lawsuit ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to create and implement “a new parole determination process through which non-violent second-strikers will be eligible for parole consideration by the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) once they have served 50% of their sentence.” The process began January 1, 2015. The state is in the process of transitioning inmates from this process to the Nonviolent Offender Parole Review Process, which was implemented on July 1, 2017. As a result, inmates are no longer referred to the Board of Parole of Parole Hearings under this program.
Before June 30th, 2017, inmates whose terms doubled pursuant to Penal Code section 667(b)-(i) or Penal Code section 1170.12 and who had served 50 percent of their actual sentence, or who were within 12 months of having served 50 percent of their actual sentence were eligible for review for possible release. Inmates were not eligible if they were required to register as sex offenders pursuant to Penal Code section 290 based on a current or prior conviction. Inmates were also not eligible if they had a current violent offense pursuant to Penal Code section 667.5(c). In addition, certain inmates will were ineligible based on specified negative institutional behavior.
Inmates were screened for eligibility at their annual unit classification committee review once they had served 50 percent of their actual sentence or were within 12 months of having served 50 percent of their actual sentence, as determined by case records personnel.
Inmates could request to review their central file prior to their annual classification committee review, consistent with existing policies and procedures for requesting review of central files (DOM section13030.16 et seq.) If an inmate was deemed eligible, the inmate was referred to the Board for review for possible release.
At the conclusion of the unit classification committee, the chairperson of the classification committee informed the inmate whether or not he or she had been deemed eligible for referral to the Board. If eligible, they were also informed that they could submit a written statement to the Board regarding his or her release, if he or she wished to do so.
Input from Inmates, District Attorneys, Victims, and the Public
Inmates had 30 days from the date of the referral to submit a written statement. The Board notified the district attorney’s office from the inmate’s county of commitment and any victims registered with the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services about the referral and requested that they submit any written statement they wished to have the Board consider within 30 days.
Hearing Officers and Procedure
Inmates who were referred to the Board prior to July 1, 2017, were reviewed by a deputy commissioner, who determined whether the inmate’s release would pose an unreasonable risk to public safety. There was no hearing. The review occurred within 50 days from the date the unit classification committee referred the inmate to the Board, or if the inmate had not yet served 50 percent of his or her sentence, the Board conducted the review once the inmate was within 60 days of serving 50 percent of his or her sentence.
The deputy commissioner reviewed all relevant and reliable information, including the inmate’s criminal history, institutional behavior, rehabilitation efforts, and any written statements received. The deputy commissioner documented his or her decision in writing, a copy of which was provided to the inmate by institutional staff. In addition, the Board sent a letter to the district attorney’s office from the inmate’s county of commitment and any victims registered with CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services informing them of the Board’s decision.
A referral to the Board could be rescinded by a classification committee at any time prior to the inmate’s release if the inmate’s case factors change such that he or she was no longer eligible for release as a non-violent, non-sex-registrant, second-strike inmate. For example, if an inmate was found guilty of a rules violation that made them ineligible for referral to the Board, the inmate was scheduled for a classification committee review to determine if the referral to the Board remained appropriate. If the committee determined the referral was no longer appropriate, the referral was rescinded. If the Board had already rendered a decision, it was vacated and the inmate, District Attorney, and registered victims were notified.
In addition, the Board was notified of any disciplinary action taken against an inmate who had been referred to the Board for consideration for release. If a decision had already been rendered, the Board could affirm or vacate the decision based on the information provided. If the decision was vacated, the inmate, District Attorney, and registered victims were notified.
If the Board decided not to release an inmate, the inmate was reviewed again for possible referral one year from the date of the Board’s decision.
The Board’s decisions concerning the release of non-violent, non-sex-registrant, second-strike inmates were subject to review, upon request, within 30 days of the date of the Board’s decision. Persons requesting review were asked to identify why they believed the Board’s decision was in error.
Reviews were conducted by an Associate Chief Deputy Commissioner. The Board processed requests to review a decision and issue a decision upholding or vacating the original decision. The person requesting decision review was notified of the outcome of the review. In addition, the district attorney’s office and victims who received notice of the referral were notified if the review resulted in a reversal of the original decision.
Release of Inmate
An inmate who was approved for release by the Board was released to state parole or post release community supervision as required by statute no later than 50 days after the Board’s decision. All notifications to law enforcement and victims required by statute were prepared by the institution’s case records staff. No inmate was released prior to serving 50 percent of his or her actual term as determined by case records staff.