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SB 94 – Pre-1990 Judicial Review

Posted by Sara Cooper | Jul 18, 2023 | 0 Comments

Senate Bill 94, known as the “recall and resentencing: special circumstances” bill that was introduced by Senator Dave Cortese. It would allow those convicted of murder and were sentenced to life without parole or given the death penalty to petition for parole.

According to the Visalia Times Delta, an estimation of 820 people will be eligible to petition and reviewed sentencing under the bill if passed, according to an analysis provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. There are exceptions outlined in SB-94, which include that the person cannot be convicted of more than two homicides and cannot have any sexual offense convictions related to a killing.

This bill will assist in resolving a public health and financial crisis as in the state, it costs them 2 to 3 times more to incarcerate an older person. According to Sacramento Observer, research shows that recidivism lessens as the age of the impacted person gets older. In 2017, the United States Sentencing Commission discovered that older offenders are less likely to commit another crime again when reentering compared to their younger counterparts. Even if they were to recidivate, it would most likely be a minor offense.

“[Elderly] people who have turned their lives around after decades behind bars would have an opportunity to rejoin society instead of continuing to contribute to mass incarceration,” Cortese said in the press statement. “It's time to put these cases in line with California's modern justice system.”

Those who are eligible and have demonstrated rehabilitation while being in prison for more than two decades will be facing evaluation on three levels of court officiality: the judge, the parole board, and the governor. A good portion of incarcerated applicants are women who were forced with no consent in being associated with a crime by their abuser. Judges also have the power to consider a person's age and their position of lessened risk to public safety.

The bill would give responsibility to the court in assessing a convict's murder sentencing in exchange for a lesser one along with a chance at parole. Applying changes in law that reduce sentences or providing for judicial discretion would be the following.

A person could petition for judicial review if they meet the following requirements:

  • The offense occurred before June 5,1990
  • They have served a minimum of 20 years
  • They have been convicted of a special circumstance

Currently, the bill is in the hands of the Assembly Committee before a floor vote, then lastly being sent over to the governor if it passes.

Here is how you can support Senate Bill 94:

  • Contact your legislator directly to confirm their support. Here is a sample script below that you can use when calling them. To find the phone number for your California Assemblymember, please click here: https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

Script: My name is [Your Name], and I live in [City or County]. I urge you to support SB 94 by Sen Cortese. SB 94 would restore judicial discretion in a relatively small number of old cases giving judges the chance to consider whether sentences imposed in the 1970s and 1980s are still in the interest of justice. This bill is important to me because__________. Thank you for your time, and please vote Aye on SB 94.

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