Incarcerated, non-violent California sex offenders are eligible to apply for early release following a court verdict on a ballot initiative that two-thirds of voters in the state approved in 2016.
Former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown spearheaded the measure four years ago.
Brown, however, did not intend to allow those convicted of sex crimes to participate in the release program, according to KTTV-TV.
“But lower courts ruled that the plain language of the initiative means they cannot be excluded from consideration as nonviolent offenders, and the high court agreed,” the outlet reported.
The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that non-violent sex offenders were eligible to request liberation from corrections facilities.
Non-violent offenders include people sentenced for child pornography, incest, indecent exposure and pimping.
“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,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote, according to KTTV.
The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that inmates convicted of nonviolent sex crimes cannot be denied a chance at early parole consideration under a ballot measure approved by nearly two-thirds of voters four years ago.https://t.co/w0KVRSGiX9
— BakersfieldNow (@bakersfieldnow) December 28, 2020
The court’s ruling allows at least 4,400 non-violent sex offenders to seek early release, the local outlet reported, citing state records.
Violent sex criminals like child rapists are still forbidden from utilizing the program.
“I hate to say I told you so,” Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said of the court’s decision, according to the local outlet.
“This is something we warned the proponents about. They largely dismissed it as posturing.”
Totten added that many of the offenders who can be released under the ballot measure are “very dangerous, exceedingly dangerous,” he told KTTV.
Parole organizations still have the final say in who is freed in the proposal.
However, authorities can not exclude “even the mere possibility of parole to an entire category” of convicts, the court ruling said, according to KTTV.
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