Advancing an Inmate’s Next Parole Suitability Hearing Date


Before the passage of Proposition 9 in 2009 (known as “Marsy’s Law), inmates serving terms of life with the possibility of parole could be denied parole for one to five years if they were convicted of murder and one or two years if they were convicted of any other offense. One purpose of Marsy’s Law was to eliminate parole hearings in which there is no likelihood the inmate will be paroled. Marsy’s Law accomplished this by changing parole denial lengths to 15, 10, 7, 5, or 3 years.

Included in Marsy’s Law are two provisions allowing an inmate’s next parole hearing date to be moved up if there is a change in circumstances or new information indicating the inmate may be suitable for parole. To implement these two provisions, the Board created the “petition to advance” process and the “administrative review” process.

Inmate Petitions to Advance Parole Suitability Hearing Date

A “petition to advance” is a petition filed with the Board by an inmate, in which the inmate requests that his or her next hearing date be moved up, or advanced. The inmate must set forth in the petition the change in circumstances or new information that establishes a reasonable likelihood that consideration of the public safety does not require additional incarceration. Petitions should be submitted by the inmate on a petition to advance form.

An inmate may first file a petition with the Board any time after his or her first parole suitability hearing, this includes hearings resulting in the inmate stipulating to being unsuitable. Thereafter, an inmate may submit another petition once every three years. An inmate may not submit a petition to advance the date of his or her first suitability hearing.

Victims and their family who have registered with the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services will be notified when a petition is filed and will be provided an opportunity to submit a written statement concerning the petition. In addition and upon request, a copy of the petition will be given to them for review and comment.

A deputy commissioner will review the inmate’s petition and any statements received from victims, victims’ families, or the district attorney’s office. The deputy commissioner will also review the inmate’s institutional records and the decision from the inmate’s last parole hearing. The deputy commissioner will determine whether there is a change in circumstances or new information which establishes a reasonable likelihood that consideration of public safety does not require an additional period of incarceration.

If the deputy commissioner denies the petition, the inmate’s next parole hearing date will not be advanced. If the petition is approved, the inmate’s next parole hearing date will be advanced. The approval of an inmate’s petition to advance their next parole hearing date may result in the inmate’s next hearing being scheduled within four to six months from the date of the approval, or it may result in a modification of the denial length imposed at the inmate’s last parole hearing. For example, if the inmate was denied parole for five years at his or her last parole hearing, the deputy commissioner may order that the denial length be modified to three years, in which case the inmate’s next parole suitability hearing will be scheduled to occur three years from the date of the inmate’s last parole hearing.

The inmate, victims and the victims’ family who received notice of the petition, and the district attorney’s office will be notified of the Board’s decision.

Administrative Reviews to Advance an Inmate’s Parole Suitability Hearing Date

Under Marsy’s Law, the Board has the discretion, after considering the views and interests of the victim, to advance an inmate’s next parole suitability hearing if the Board finds there is a change in circumstances or new information that establishes a reasonable likelihood that public safety does not require an additional period of incarceration.

The California Supreme Court has stated that the Board may direct its staff to review a particular inmate’s circumstances at any time to determine if there is a reasonable likelihood he or she is suitable for parole. In addition, the United States Supreme Court has supported parole Board’s concentrating their efforts on those inmates identified as having a good possibility of being found suitable for parole.

Based on Marsy’s Law, as well as California and United States Supreme Court case law, the Board implemented a review process to identify those inmates who have a good possibility of being found suitable for parole and reviewing their cases to determine if their next hearing date should be advanced. This process is commonly referred to as the Board’s “administrative review” process.

Under the administrative review process, an inmate who is denied parole for a period of three years after a parole hearing and who has a low or moderate overall risk rating (as determined by the Board’s most recent comprehensive risk assessment), will be reviewed one year after his or her parole hearing. The Board will review the case and decide whether to advance the inmate’s next parole hearing date.

The Board will consider whether there has been a change in circumstances or whether there is new information which establishes a reasonable likelihood that public safety does not require additional incarceration. Victims and their family who have registered with the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services will be notified when an administrative review is being conducted and will be given an opportunity to submit a statement for the Board’s consideration. In addition, the district attorney’s office that prosecuted the inmate will also be notified and provided an opportunity to submit a statement for the Board’s consideration.

A deputy commissioner will review the inmate’s institutional record and the decision from the inmate’s last parole hearing. The deputy commissioner will also review any statements received from victims, victims’ families, or the district attorney’s office. The deputy commissioner will determine whether there has been a change in circumstances or new information which establishes a reasonable likelihood that consideration of public safety does not require additional incarceration. 

If the deputy commissioner denies the petition, the inmate’s next parole hearing date will not be advanced. If the petition is approved, the inmate’s next parole hearing date will be scheduled to occur about 16 to 18 months from the date of the inmate’s last parole hearing.

The inmate, victims and the victims’ family who received notice of administrative review, and the district attorney’s office will be notified of the Board’s decision.