Articles Tagged with parole

It has been reported that two men, Jon Ritzheimer and Ryane Payne, involved in the occupation of Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, haveviolated their release conditions by visiting the Bundy ranch in Nevada without permission. Evidently, the evidence was in Facebook photos and discovered by a federal pretrial services officer in Oregon who notified Brown. As a result, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has moved up Jon Ritzheimer’s date to surrender to prison from Feb. 15 to Jan. 12. Ryan Payne was ordered to return to home detention in Las Vegas. Both men have been forbidden from having contact with any defendant from either the Oregon or Nevada standoff cases before their prison sentences begin.

Originally, Mr. Ritzheimer’s release condition had specified a no-travel restriction that only allowed him to travel from Arizona to Oregon for court proceedings. Mr. Payne was given permission to go from Las Vegas to Montana for Christmas after a mistrial was declared last month for the Bundy-affiliated defendants involved in the Nevada armed standoff in 2014. Neither of the men was allowed to go to the ranch. Judge Brown decided to deal with the allegations informally instead of through formal proceedings.

Violating Release Conditions in California

There are several ways a court can conditionally release you from prison or jail. You can be released on bail before your trial proceedings start, released on your own recognizance (which does not require paying bail), or you can be released on parole after you have already served some jail time.

If you have been released on your own recognizance, it means you have simply promised to attend all court dates and proceedings. See CA Penal Code § 1318. This option is saved for those who are a low flight-risk and are not accused of serious crimes. Failure to appear in court then, results in another misdemeanor if you were charged with a misdemeanor, and a felony, if you faced a felony charge.

If you have been released on bail, that can come with certain conditions from the judge, such as staying away from certain people. A violation of a bail release can result in either a warning, arrest, a revocation of bail (going back to jail), an increased amount of bail, more restrictive bail conditions, and even a contempt of court charge. Continue reading

California corrections officials on Friday began accepting public comments on the new set of proposed regulations that have overhauled the state parole system. See Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016. State regulators gave the guidelines initial approval in April. They have been used to implement Proposition 57.

Last November, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 57 (64% to 35%) which would emphasize rehabilitation and incentivizing inmates to play a role in their own rehabilitation through credit-earning opportunities for sustained good behavior. Proposition 57 also allows the state Board of Parole Hearings to grant early release to those convicted of nonviolent crimes, and allows the moves up parole consideration of nonviolent offenders who have served the full-term of the sentence for their primary offense and are not determined to pose a risk to their community.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) issued a Public Notice on July 14, 2017 which begins the public comment period for a minimum of 45 days. This would allow the public to submit comments regarding Prop. 57 through mail, fax, and email. Changes to the credit system began in May and the new parole eligibility requirements took effect this month. Final approval is expected in the fall.

However, the rules have come under fire from law enforcement and prosecutors who have largely opposed Proposition 57. Specifically, they are concerned that Proposition 57 did not include language exempting sex offenders from the process.

Parole Conditions

Regardless of who is eligible to be released and when, all inmates released from a California State prison are subject to conditions of parole that must be followed. Some parolees also have special conditions of parole which must also be followed.

General conditions that apply to all parolees include:

  • You and your residence and your possessions can be searched at any time of the day or night, with or without a warrant, and with or without a reason, by any parole agent or police officer. See CA Penal Code § 3067.
  • You must report to your parole agent within one day of your release from prison or jail.
  • You must always update your parole agent with updates to your address and phone number.
  • You must notify your parole agent within three days if the location of any job changes.
  • You must get permission from parole agent for permission to travel more than 50 miles from your residence.

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This past year, California has been no stranger to criminal justice reforms as a means to lower the state’s prison population. In addition to the 807 bills signed into law set to take place in 2016, Governor Jerry Brown (D- CA) has introduced another state ballot initiative which aims to free certain felons earlier and have fewer juveniles tried as adults. Under Brown’s new proposal, those who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes, including non-violent felons, would be allowed to seek a parole hearing if they have completed their base enhancements, even for those with gang enhancements or firearms possessions.

Additionally, the proposal requires that judges instead of prosecutors, would have to decide whether juveniles can be tried as adults. Currently, California is one of 15 states which allow prosecutors to make the decision.

Legal experts say that the current proposal as it stands would weaken prosecutor’s plea-bargain power. Specifically, by permitting early release for someone with consecutive sentences or enhancements, prosecutors would lose some power in the negotiation of pleas with defendant.   Approximately 95% of criminal cases in California are resolved by plea bargains.

Currently, it is estimated that 20,000 out of California’s 127,000 inmates are currently serving time for drug or property crimes would be candidates for earlier release under this new proposal.  The proposal is expected to make about 7,000 inmates immediately eligible for parole hearings, though officials said about 5,700 of those are already eligible under an existing federal court order. Brown said the proposals build on federal court orders requiring California to reduce its prison population. If California voters approve it in November, this new proposal will be signed into law.   

The Parole Process in California

In California, parole only applies to felony cases where one is sent to state prison. Those who have served a certain percentage of their sentence and have a good record in prison will become eligible for a parole hearing. Once eligible, you must make your case to the California parole board, which is comprised of at least one commissioner deputy commissioner from the Board of Parole Hearings. At the hearing, they will examine your prior history, offenses, disciplinary record in prison, and applicable rehabilitation programs you have committed, to and psychological/risk assessments. The California Penal Code requires the Board to set a release date for an inmate unless s/he currently poses an unreasonable risk of danger to the public. The governor is allowed to override a parole board and block early release.    Continue reading