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Supreme Court Reviews YOP Hearing Eligibility for LWOPs

1/12/2023—The court granted review in People v. Hardin, where the Second District, Division Seven, published opinion found an equal protection violation in the statutory parole eligibility scheme for serious offenses committed by young adults. If a person is sentenced to 25 years to life for crimes, including first degree premeditated murder, committed when they were under 26 years old, they are eligible for parole after a quarter century. But there is no such eligibility for that person if they were instead sentenced to life without possibility of parole. There’s “no rational basis” for that distinction, Division Seven said. The Supreme Court has denied review in several cases reaching a contrary conclusion. (See among others People v. Sands (2021) 70 Cal.App.5th 193; People v. Acosta (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 769; In re Williams (2020) 57 Cal.App.5th 427.) Substantial though the issue might be, the court probably would have denied review in Hardin, too, had Division Seven agreed with those other cases. Justice Goodwin Liu has shown a continued interest in issues concerning parole eligibility for young adults, including filing two separate statements last year.

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