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CA: Court of Appeal to Hear Prop. 57 Case on January 22

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, will hear oral arguments from attorneys representing both the California Department of Corrections (CDCR) and the plaintiff on January 22 at 2 p.m. The court is located in Sacramento at 914 Capitol Mall on the fourth floor and the public is welcome to attend the hearing.

Oral arguments in the appeal are being heard at the request of CDCR despite a letter from the court stating oral arguments in this case were not necessary. CDCR filed an appeal after a Superior Court determined in March 2019 that the agency’s emergency regulations implementing Proposition 57 were “contrary to the voters’ direction in Proposition 57.”

At issue in this case is whether CDCR can lawfully prohibit everyone convicted of a sex offense from receiving the benefits of Proposition 57. The proposition provides that a person convicted of a non-violent felony must be considered for early parole, however, CDCR issued emergency regulations stating that the benefits of Prop. 57 would not be made available to anyone convicted of a sex offense.

In this case, the trial court determined that CDCR cannot deny those benefits to a person previously convicted of a sex offense who is currently incarcerated for a different type of offense. The trial court did not, however, determine whether CDCR can deny those benefits to a person currently incarcerated for a sex offense but instead directed CDCR to issue new regulations that defined “nonviolent” in a manner consistent with the Constitution and the voters’ directive.

“Because CDCR appealed the trial court’s decision, CDCR can lawfully disregard that decision,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “As a result, CDCR has issued final regulations which repeat the mistake of its emergency regulations by denying the benefits of Prop. 57 to everyone convicted of a sex offense.”

The same plaintiff filed a lawsuit challenging CDCR’s final regulations and a hearing in that case is scheduled for May 22.

“CDCR’s decision to appeal this and other cases challenging the agency’s regulations implementing Prop. 57 is both unconstitutional and a waste of taxpayer funding,” stated Bellucci. “The greatest harm done is that there are thousands of families who are being denied the early release of their loved ones.”

There are a number of related cases pending in state courts. The most prominent of those cases, In re Gadlin, No. S25499, is currently pending before the California Supreme Court, however, the scope of that case is limited to registrants currently incarcerated for a non-sex offense.

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