A lawsuit was filed on April 27 challenging regulations recently issued by the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) which prohibit the beneficial effects of Proposition 57 from applying to anyone convicted of a sex offense. Those benefits include shorter prison terms that result from earning credit for good behavior as well as participation in rehabilitative, educational and career training programs.
“Most registrable sex offenses are not violent offenses according to existing state law,” stated attorney Janice Bellucci. “Therefore, CDCR’s regulations have no legal foundation and are unlawful.”
The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, requests a declaration that parts of the CDCR regulation are void and invalid. The lawsuit also requests a writ that would require CDCR to apply the benefits of Proposition 57 to registrants convicted of non-violent felonies.
“Proposition 57’s inclusion of all offenses not already designated ‘violent’ by state law was intentional, well-publicized, and within the contemplation of those who voted for it,” according to the lawsuit. “Supporters and opponents of the measure routinely listed and described the specific offenses that would be eligible for early parole consideration if Proposition 57 became law, including nonviolent Registrable Offenses.”
Proposition 57 was passed during the November 2016 elections. The Official Voter Information Guide for that proposition included statements from opponents that identified many of the registrable offenses that would become eligible for early parole condition if the proposition was passed. Many law enforcement officials also explained to the public at that time that Proposition 57 would apply to all inmates unless they had been convicted of a violent felony.
After passage of Proposition 57, CDCR issued several public statements explaining the provisions of that proposition. In its public statements, CDCR repeatedly confirmed that all inmates are eligible for early parole consideration unless their convictions were designated as violent. One of those public statements came from CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan, who in a video released to inmates stated that “all inmates currently serving convictions for a nonviolent offense….will be able to participate in this parole process.”
The number of individuals incarcerated in California for sex offenses was 24,724 as of January 2017, according to the CA Sex Offender Management Board. It is not known at this time how many of those individuals were convicted of non-violent felonies.