Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Bobby Finds Hope
Dear Relations and Friends,
I promised in my last open message to let you know if there were any developments on the parole hearing front. There have been some developments of note, and they appear to be significant, at least potentially. While I'm loath to predict what bearing they may ultimately have on my personal circumstances (we've been tricked before!), it does appear at present that the outlook is improving.
Before going into these developments, however, I want to apologize again to Joan for sending her email out in an open message, and to those of you as well who may have been confused upon receiving it. My appreciation for the kind responses that resulted notwithstanding, I regret the error and will be redoubling my efforts to insure that the privacy of persons on my mailing list will not be compromised in the future.
Now back to the parole hearing front. Please take a few minutes to review the attached article from the San Francisco Chronicle. Recapping briefly, several decades ago a misbegotten bit of tough-on-crime legislation put the California governor's office in the thankless position of having to approve each and every parole date granted to an inmate with any version of a life sentence. Needless to say, this made the parole hearing process extremely political, with the result that relatively very few prisoners with "life top" sentences have been paroled in the intervening 27 years, even in cases when the parole board had found the inmate suitable for parole.
As the article states, Gov. Jerry Brown has decided to use the governor's parole-veto option in a manner that is more in keeping with the original legislation - in only rare cases, in other words, when a genuine threat to public safety appears to be evident. Brown's track record to date bears this out. We can only surmise how much the $26 billion state budget shortfall and a federal court order to reduce the state's prison population by 40,000 inmates have influenced the stance he has taken on this issue. Not that this matters. Grace and blessings use what instruments are available.
To boot, the portion of the 2008 legislation that retroactively mandated triple the length of parole denial periods (from 1-to-5 years to 3-to-15 years) has been overturned by the California Court of Appeals. State prosecutors have appealed this decision, of course. Given the strong and persuasive language the court used in its decision to vacate the retroactive portion of the new law it seems unlikely that the state's appeal is anything but a strategy to buy some time.
Assuming that the court's ruling is affirmed by the California Supreme Court, the 5-year denial that resulted in my parole hearing last December will be modified. It seems I will soon need to begin preparing for a parole hearing likely to be scheduled to take place late next year.
The complexion of my situation appears to be changing. I attribute this to the collective power of your supportive intentions and actions on my behalf, for which I remain immensely grateful.
Peace to you all.