California prisons may be forced to let out thousands of sex offenders on early parole, despite Gov. Jerry Brown’s promises that no such thing would happen.
Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner’s ruling relates to the state’s recent referendum on Proposition 57 that orders California prisons to consider early parole for non-violent offenders, the Los Angeles Times reported. Brown, a Democrat, had promised voters that non-violent sex offenders would not see the benefits of the bill, but Sumner’s ruling strikes down the exclusion in part.
Now, those convicted of pimping minors, incest, or child pornography possession are eligible for release.
“If the voters had intended to exclude all registered sex offenders from early parole consideration under Proposition 57, they presumably would have said so,” Sumner told reporters.
Sumner ordered that the exclusion be pared down to only affect those currently serving time of a non-violent sex offense, cutting off its effect for future inmates. He also ordered that any sex offender who has served time for their offense but is now serving time for another offense must be eligible for early release.
California’s prisons hold roughly 20,000 sex offenders, more than half of whom committed non-violent offenses. Janice Bellucci, the president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws, filed the lawsuit challenging Prop. 57 on behalf of those sex offenders, claiming there was no language in the law indicating in exclusion, merely a promise from Brown.
“Until they figure something else out, they have to consider anybody convicted of a nonviolent offense even if it was a sex offense,” Bellucci told The Associated Press. “We believe we’ve won a battle, but the war continues.”
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