california supreme court rules sex offenders convicted of child porn offenses can get early parole

Inmates convicted of nonviolent sex crimes in California may be eligible for early parole after serving their basic sentence.

The California Supreme Court has ruled that thousands of inmates convicted of nonviolent sex crimes are eligible for early release.

While the ruling doesn’t include violent sex offenses, it does include crimes like incest, indecent exposure, pimping, and possessing child pornography.

In the unanimous decision, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said:

“The initiative’s language provides no indication that the voters intended to allow the (Corrections) Department to create a wholesale exclusion from parole consideration based on an inmate’s sex offense convictions when the inmate was convicted of a nonviolent felony.”

The ruling came as the high court considered whether sex offenders should be excluded from Proposition 57.

Prop. 57 is a 2016 voter-approved ballot measure that allowed the release of prisoners after they had completed their sentences for nonviolent crimes.

The Measure is Aimed at Reducing California’s Prison Population While Lowering Costs

The high court, however, ruled that ‘nonviolent offender parole eligibility must be based on an inmate’s current conviction.’

So, any inmate can’t be excluded from parole consideration for what the state deems a nonviolent sex offense.

Under California law, violent sex offenses include rape, sodomy and continuous sexual abuse of a child.

Though estimates vary, this new ruling means somewhere between 4,400 and 20,000 sex offenders could now be eligible for parole.

Corrections spokesperson, however, echoed the high court’s emphasis that the decision does not necessarily mean the entire category will get parole.

Parole boards can still choose not to allow inmates earlier releases. This leaves corrections officials ‘with ample room to protect public safety.’

Meanwhile, former California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who sponsored the Prop. 57 measure has argued it was never meant to cover sex offenders.

The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has also prohibited the parole board from considering early release for sex offenders.

Additionally, Sacramento attorney Janice Bellucci insisted ‘society will be safe’ by making sure inmates granted parole don’t go on committing more crimes.

Following the release, corrections officers monitor the inmates electronically 24 hours a day for years, and sometimes even decades.

The individuals also undergo counseling and rehabilitation programs. And if they violate the terms of their parole, they return to prison.