CA Supreme Court rules non-violent sex offenders should be eligible for parole

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

Thousands of non-violent sex offenders can now be considered for parole.

The California Supreme Court issued a ruling Monday that said people on sex offender registries should be eligible for parole if their crimes are considered non-violent.

64% of California voters approved Proposition 57 in 2016, which was also sponsored by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, to allow convicted felons to apply for parole after they had served the maximum sentence for their primary offense.

But the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation chose to bar people convicted of sexual crimes.

“The Department of Corrections is sort of an entity unto its own and they oppose lots of things,” explained UC Hastings law professor Rory Little. “Now, they weren’t acting in bad faith. They said look, ‘if you’re convicted of a sex registration offense we don’t think you should be included in this provision’.”

But the State Supreme Court said there was nothing in the 2016 law that indicated that sexual crimes should be exempt.

“The people of California upheld this provision, this is a constitutional amendment to the State of California constitution,” said Little.

Both the original law and the court’s ruling are clear.

“It says any person convicted of a nonviolent felony and sentenced to state prison shall be eligible for parole consideration after completing the full term of their primary offense,” explained Little. “You don’t get parole necessarily, you’re just eligible for parole.”

Part of the CDCR’s concern was that offenders with violent crimes in their past would be able to apply for parole if they were not currently serving a sentence for a violent offense. But parole boards are already required to consider an applicant’s past criminal record.

The court’s ruling said that these prisoners have a constitutional right to at least be considered for release.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images