California legislators are considering a bill that could have far-reaching impact on the state’s criminal justice system. If passed, the bill would mean that a convicted criminal would have to be convicted of a new crime to be considered for parole from prison. In addition, the hearing would be conducted by a panel of three judges, rather than by a single judge.

On Tuesday, April 16, 2014, the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee held a joint hearing on the controversial “Fairness in Sentencing Act.” At the state level, this bill would change parole laws to make sure that federal criminals do not avoid the consequences of their crimes by going back into the revolving prison door.

Dan Dow, who is known as the first non-violent offender to be released from California’s death row (at age 29), recently spoke out against a proposed parole hearing regulation change that would make it harder for convicted killers to be released early from prison.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to hold a meeting to consider new regulations for parole hearings that would burden crime victims

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The Board of Parole Hearings of the CDCR is proposing a new regulation that would require crime victims to inform the Board of their desire to participate in a parole hearing at least 30 days before the hearing date.

Due to recent changes in jail prisoner parole eligibility, this approach is particularly troublesome. The legislation has evolved dramatically in the past ten years, starting with AB 109 and continuing with Prop. 57 and SB 260, among others, in terms of the time prisoners spend imprisoned and when they are eligible for parole. It’s already impossible to predict when an individual prisoner will be eligible for a parole hearing.

Furthermore, there is no definite period in which the CDCR notifies a District Attorney of a scheduled parole hearing, and the District Attorney, in turn, notifies the victims.

We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero

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When the CDCR notifies the District Attorney, considerable effort is taken to identify and notify victims of the pending parole hearing. Locating victims may take a long time and a lot of resources, especially in earlier instances. Smaller counties are particularly burdened by this job, but even big counties find it difficult.

A 30-day timeline is much too short to allow for the job of finding victims and preparing them for the re-traumatization of confronting the individual who has caused them so much pain.

“This new policy harms the individuals who need dignity, respect, and compassion the most — victims of violent crime,” said District Attorney Dan Dow. “Crime victims do not choose to play a part in the criminal justice system. They didn’t want to take part in the criminal activity. It is simply unreasonable and wrong to require crime victims to keep track of changes in the Board’s administrative processes or other legislation that benefit only inmates.”

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, along with many other District Attorney’s Offices, will be present at the Board of Parole Hearings’ online hearing on Aug. 16 at 1 p.m. to express their opposition to the new rules.

If this rule is approved and enforced, the Board would have gone on record as rejecting crime victims’ rights and the goals of Marsy’s Law, commonly known as the Crime Victims Bill of Rights, which was ratified by California voters in 2008.

“We urge the Board of Parole Hearings to oppose this rule, which would subject victims to even more injustice than they have already experienced,” Dow said.

If you have any questions, please call Assistant District Attorney Eric J. Dobroth at 805.781.5819.

For more information on the Crime Victims Bill of Rights, go to the website.

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There are some people in our country who have committed crimes that are so heinous that they should not be allowed to be free. They should be behind bars, they should not be allowed to go free. The system is set up to prevent that from happening. But there are some people who plead their innocence, who are found ‘Not Guilty’ by a jury. They are conditionally released. The conditions that they have to meet, in order for them to be released, that is where the problem comes in. That is where the problem is really.. Read more about dan dow endorsements and let us know what you think.

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