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CDCR Drafts Prop 57 Regulations that Undercut the Initiative

Source: Commons Wikimedia

In November, California voted overwhelmingly to pass Proposition 57, an initiative that will transform juvenile justice and boost incentives for rehabilitation in state prisons. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which operates the state’s 35 prisons, is now tasked with drafting regulations governing the initiative’s nonviolent parole process and earned credit expansion. Unfortunately, CDCR's draft regulations, which were made public on July 14, categorically exclude thousands of imprisoned Californians.

Prop 57 brought voters together around a shared vision for strengthening communities and improving public safety through greater emphasis on rehabilitation. However, the initiative regulations, in their current form, undermine this vision by disregarding the rehabilitative achievements of those who completed programming in the past, excluding those with three strikes from nonviolent parole, and failing to recognize youth offender parole or elderly parole dates when awarding earned credit.

CDCR is currently accepting feedback on these regulations from members of the public. To voice your concern, submit a letter to CDCR by fax (916-324-6075) or email (CDCR-Prop57-Comments@cdcr.ca.gov) by September 1, 2017 at 5:00pm.

CJCJ recommends three key revisions to better align the regulations with the intent of Prop 57:

Earned credits should be awarded retroactively.

Those who have been dedicated to their education and rehabilitation should be rewarded for it. The proposed regulations must apply new program credits to those who have demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation by participating in programs prior to Prop 57. In recognition of the ways effective rehabilitation aids community safety, CDCR should grant credits retroactively, ensuring that those who have invested the most in personal growth are recognized for their hard work.

Nonviolent parole must include those sentenced to life in prison for nonviolent offenses under the Three Strikes Law.

Prop 57 was designed to provide accelerated parole opportunities to all those convicted of nonviolent offenses. However, the proposed regulations, as written, prevent thousands sentenced to life in prison under the Three Strikes Law for nonviolent offenses from demonstrating their eligibility for release. Individuals serving life sentences for a nonviolent offense are among the lowest risk in the prison population and deserve the chance to have that risk fully assessed by a parole board.

Earned credits should count towards early release for those eligible for youth offender or elderly parole.

Prop 57 sought to provide incentives for self-improvement to youth and adults alike. By disregarding the true parole eligibility of those who stand to benefit from youth offender parole or elderly parole, the proposed regulations prevent many in California’s prisons from earning credits towards their new parole date. No one should be excluded from receiving valid or useable credits based on their eligibility for another program.

The current regulations violate the spirit and letter of Prop 57 in ways that undermine the state’s public safety goals and needlessly burden our prison system. CDCR must to revise its regulations to extend the hope of Prop 57’s reforms to all those making strides in their rehabilitation and demonstrating readiness for parole.


Related Links:

Weakening Prop 57 Reinforces Mass Incarceration

Prop 57 Resource Page

California Legislature Hears Pros and Cons of Statewide Sentencing Reform


Keywords: CDCR, elderly parole, Maureen Washburn, Prop 57, proposition 57, regulations, SB 260, SB 261

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