The Board of Parole Hearings Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and proceed over parole hearings for inmates sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
California is one of only four states in the country where the Governor has the right to review and reverse grants of parole to life inmates convicted of murder. In California, the Governor has been given the constitutional power by the voters to reverse or modify any Board decision to grant parole to a convicted murderer – in all other life with the possibility of parole cases, the Governor is limited to asking the parole board for further review and consider rescinding or modifying the grant.
By comparison – Governor Davis allowed parole for 8 out of 370 total grants sent to him by the Parole Board during his entire term in office.
Under Governor Schwarzenegger:
- The Board of Parole Hearings granted release dates to 2113 life sentenced inmates from the time Governor Schwarzenegger took office on November 17, 2003 through December 2010.
- This equates to 1,563 more grants given under the Schwarzenegger administration, than over the previous 14 years under two different Governors.
Below are the number of inmates sentenced to life with the possibility of parole that have been released since Governor Schwarzenegger took office. Years 2003-2006 show the number of “decline to review” or affirmed parole releases by the governor only. Years 2007-2009 numbers account for ALL life inmates released.
- Of 18* grants in 2003, he allowed 6 to parole.
*this number does not reflect the grants reviewed by the Governor from the prior administration
- In 2004 of 207 grants, he allowed 73 to parole. After “we are disappointed in you” commercials and pending elections, things change.
- In 2005 of 179 grants, he allowed parole for 35.
- In 2006 of 206 grants, he has allowed parole to 25.
- In 2007 of 172 grants, 62 life inmates were released.
35 by the Governor**
10 by the Courts**
17 by the Board of Parole Hearings**
- In 2008 of 297 grants, 87 life inmates were released.
53 by the Governor**
11 by the Courts**
23 by the Board of Parole Hearings**
- In 2009 of 454 grants, 120 life inmates were released by the Governor.
- In 2010 of 503 grants, 155 life inmates were released by the Governor.
** Governor Release –
Otherwise known as Governor Decline to Review.
BPH suitability decisions for life prisoners forwarded to the Governor for his review pursuant to Penal Code sections 3041.2 and 3041.1: if the Governor has no issue with the Board’s decision, he declines to review the decision and the suitability decision stands. Thus, life prisoners with suitability decisions that resulted in past release dates would be released to parole.
Board of Parole Hearings Release –
known as -Affirmed by the full Board.
Cases forwarded to the Governor pursuant to Penal Code section 3041.1 (mostly non-murder cases) in which the Governor, following his consideration, returns the case to the Board with written issues of concern. The full Board, sitting en banc (all of the Commissioners), vote on the case at our monthly Executive Meeting. The vote can send the case to a rescission hearing for further consideration, or they can affirm the suitability decision. Again, if the release date is in the past, the prisoner is released.
BPH Affirmed @ Rescission Hearing.
The above-stated situation in which a case is sent to a rescission hearing. The rescission hearing panel can rescind the release date, modify or add time to the release date, or affirm the release date. If the release date is in the past, following decision review, the prisoner would be released.
Court Ordered Release = When an inmates takes their case to court for being denied release from prison and the court rules in their favor.