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Sex Offenders May Be Offered Early Release Under Prop 57

Jul 28, 2017 by Mike McKneely in Sex Crimes

California is notorious for its overcrowded prisons and a powerful corrections and law enforcement lobby that seeks to keep them that way. The situation is so dire that in 2011, the United States Supreme Court ordered California to take measures to limit its prison population. One initiative to reduce the prison population is Proposition 57, which increases the availability of parole for non-violent offenders.

Approved by 65% of California voters, Proposition 57 allows the State Board of Parole to release convicts who are serving time for crimes that are not considered violent under California law. Under the new law, offenders will earn additional time credits if they participate in rehabilitation programs while behind bars. Once their basic sentences are carried out(without all the extra time added by so-called sentencing “enhancements”), the parole board may then consider them for release.

If you or a loved one have questions about how Proposition 57 may impact a previous sentence or you need to speak with an experienced Fresno criminal defense attorney, contact Michael McKneely at (559) 443-7442 right away to schedule a free consultation.

Will Proposition 57 Apply to Sex Offenders?

Opponents of Proposition 57 are fighting the initiative because they claim it will result in the release of dangerous offenders into the streets. Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig summarizes these concerns: “Rape by drugging somebody. Hate crimes. Gang crimes. Assault with a deadly weapon. Domestic violence. These are all offenses that will be eligible for early release if Prop. 57 passes, and people don’t understand that because when you read the title, it seems like it only applies to non-violent. But that’s simply not true.”

This January, Governor Brown addressed these concerns by ordering the State Corrections and Rehabilitation Department to exclude sex offenders from early release on parole. In response, the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that advocates for the rights of sex offenders and their families, sued the State because its regulations “impermissibly restrict and impair” the scope of the initiative passed by California voters. In other words, California voted to allow non-violent sex-offenders to gain early release, so it may be illegal for the State government to deny eligibility to these offenders.

Proposition 57 Won’t Get Fully Implemented Until the Fall

Currently, the State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is only considering a small group of prisoners for early release. The initiative won’t go into effect fully until this Fall, when the department has had time to develop the regulations required by Proposition 57. The outcome of the pending litigation between the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws and the State will likely determine what these regulations look like and whether nonviolent sex offenders will be eligible for release.

According to recent projections, Proposition 57 will reduce California’s prison population by 11,500 over the next four years. As of January of this year, there were 22,455 sex offenders in California’s prisons, and 4,521 of them are considered non-violent. Thus, nonviolent sex offenders represent a significant number of prisoners potentially eligible for parole under Proposition 57. Their fate hangs in the balance this summer as the courts and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation determine the scope of Proposition 57.

Michael McKneely is Here to Help

At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we are dedicated to preserving the rights of the accused as they confront the criminal justice system, and in minimizing the devastating effect of a criminal conviction on our clients. If you are facing criminal charges, or if you or a family member is a convicted sex offender and you’d like to review your options under Proposition 57, we can help.

Call us today at (559) 443-7442 for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case.

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