SB 81, as amended, Skinner. Parole hearings. Status: 5/31/2023 Read third time. Passed. (Ayes 29. Noes 10.) Ordered to the Assembly. Amendments: Please see new version following. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST: Existing law requires the Board of Parole Hearings, among other responsibilities, to conduct parole suitability hearings and determine whether an inmate is suitable for parole. Existing law establishes the procedures for parole hearings and applicable review periods for the board’s decisions. at all hearings for the purpose of reviewing a prisoner’s parole suitability, or the setting, postponing, or rescinding of parole dates, and provides inmates specified rights at parole suitability hearings. This bill would prohibit the board from considering any discriminatory factor, as specified, in reaching a finding of unsuitability for parole. The bill would require the board, when stating the reasons for its decision to deny parole, to articulate the relationship between each reason for denial and the parole candidate’s current risk of violence. Existing law allows an unlawfully imprisoned person to prosecute a writ of habeas corpus to inquire into the cause of the imprisonment. This bill would establish that a parole candidate who has reached their minimum eligible parole date, as specified, has a fundamental vested interest in being released on parole. The bill would require the Board of Parole Hearings to notify a parole candidate who has been denied parole of their right to petition the court for habeas relief. The bill would require the court to, upon request, appoint counsel to a parole candidate who has reached their minimum eligible parole date who petitions the court for habeas relief after being denied parole. The bill would establish that a parole candidate who has reached their minimum eligible parole date has made a case for relief that should be accepted as correct unless proved otherwise and that the reviewing court may not deny a petition based on that fact without a hearing. The bill would require a court reviewing a petition for habeas relief based on a parole denial to uphold the decision only if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person presents a current, unreasonable risk of danger to public safety, as specified. The bill would require the Board of Parole Hearings to track and publish data on the outcomes of these court decisions. Existing law establishes the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and charges it with certain duties and powers, including, among other things, jurisdiction over state prisons. This bill would require the department’s Office of Research to collect, publicly report each week, and annually collect and publish specified data relating to parole hearings on the department’s internet website. The bill would allow a bona fide research institution concerned with the quality of the criminal justice system to access parole hearing-level data, as specified, and would prohibit the disclosure of personally identifying information from reports or publications of the data. This bill would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to increase transparency, predictability, and accountability of parole suitability hearings.
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