Leader Jones Urges Gov. Newsom to Veto SB 81 that Would Release More Violent Criminals Earlier

SB 81 Would Put One Senator’s Wishful Thinking Over that of the Parole Board & Governor

Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones (R-San Diego) is calling on the governor to veto Senate Bill 81 (D-Skinner, Berkeley), which would force the courts to review and reverse the parole board’s and governor’s decisions to deny parole unless specific evidentiary conditions are met.

Click here to read Leader Jones’s letter requesting the veto.

“SB 81 is a measure by one VERY liberal, soft-on-crime senator who doesn’t think criminals, even violent ones, are being released from prison quickly enough,” said Leader Jones. “She wants to force the courts into overriding the decisions of the parole board and governor because she doesn’t like their inmate release rate numbers.”

SB 81 will require courts to review parole denials based on a single factor – is the felon a danger to society right now, currently – while ignoring the full range of considerations required including their record in prison, their level of rehabilitation, whether or not they have acknowledged their role in the crime, their future risk of danger, and other factors.

It denies courts their role as gatekeepers in habeas cases – those in which the inmate challenges that they should even be imprisoned – forcing them to review any case brought before them with a presumption for reversal.

“There are already numerous existing procedures in place to ensure accountability and fairness at parole hearings, including a vetted state board, gubernatorial authority, and the ability for an inmate to petition for judicial review of their case,” continued Leader Jones. “Instead, SB 81 puts a thumb on the scales of justice, tipping them drastically in favor of violent felons whom the board and governor already have determined are not suitable for release yet. This is not just wrong but dangerous.”

Leader Jones urges Gov. Newsom not to undermine his authority and that of the parole board by signing SB 81. Upending the parole process by greenlighting the premature release of violent criminals will inevitably endanger the public.