The California Supreme Court today listened to oral arguments in the first in a series of cases regarding the implementation of Proposition 57 by the California Department of Corrections (CDC). At issue in all of those cases is whether CDC’s regulations could lawfully exclude anyone convicted of a sex offense from its major benefit, that is, early parole consideration.
The registrant in today’s case is Gregory Gadlin who is currently in state prison after being convicted of an offense that does not require registration. However, Gadlin is required to register as a sex offender due to a conviction he suffered more than 30 years ago and therefore CDC has refused to consider him for early parole.
In addition to this case, the California Supreme Court has granted review in three additional cases with similar facts. The cases are In re Schuster (S260024), Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws (S261362) and In re Chavez (S263584). The Court has placed all three cases on hold pending their decision in the Gadlin case (S254599).
“Today the Court closely questioned CDC regarding its assertion that Proposition 57 authorizes the agency to exclude all registrants from early parole consideration,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.
Gadlin’s attorney, Janice Bellucci, argued today that the plain language of Proposition 57 provides that “any person” convicted of a non-violent offense must be considered for early parole consideration and does not allow CDC to create a “categorical exclusion” that prohibits any person or any group of people from that consideration. Bellucci also argued that CDC’s claim that “all sex offenders have an increased risk of recidivism” and “represent a risk to public safety” is factually incorrect and not supported by government or academic research. Instead, the research has found that registrants have the lowest rates of recidivism and re-offense as compared to individuals convicted of any other offense except murder.
In the Gadlin case, both the trial court and the appellate court agreed that CDC’s regulations were unlawful and ordered that they be set aside. Instead of complying with those court orders, CDC appealed the case to the Supreme Court. As a result, the orders from the lower courts were put on hold.
In every court decision regarding Proposition 57 rendered after Gadlin, the trial courts and appellate courts also ruled that CDC’s regulations were unlawful and ordered that they be set aside. Because CDC also appealed those cases to the Supreme Court, the orders from the lower courts in those cases were also put on hold.
The California Supreme Court is required to issue its decision in the Gadlin case no later January 7, 2021, which is 90 days after oral argument.