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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Group Sues to Block Inmates’ Early Release

AUBURN, Calif. (CN) - A crime victims advocacy group sued California to try to stop the early release of thousands of inmates. Crime Victims United of California claims SB3 X18 will spring 40,000 inmates in the next 2 years, though other groups put the number at only 6,500.

The nonprofit plaintiff says the early releases will violate the Victim's Bill of Rights Act aka Marsy's law, which voters approved as Proposition 9 in 2008.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB3 X18 into law in October 2009.

The law incorporated into the state constitution "the public's right to prevent the early release of felons, adequate notice of the release to the victims of those felons and funding of prisons to adequately protect the public," according to the complaint in Placer County Court.

The early release provisions took effect Jan. 25 as part of the state's floundering attempts to reduce prison overcrowding and fill in enormous budget deficits, in corrections and the state as a whole, according to the complaint. To manage the early releases, Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California Department of Corrections approved awarding additional good-time credit for time served.

But the plaintiffs say Marsy's Law "specifically prohibits the early release of prisoners due to overcrowding and a failed prison system. It provides that sentences 'shall not be substantially diminished by early release policies intended to alleviate overcrowding in custodial facilities.'"

Marsy's Law was named for Marsalee Nicholas, a UC Santa Barbara senior who was shot to death in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend.

A member of the plaintiff's board of directors, Nina Salarno Ashford, represents the plaintiffs.

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