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California is one of two states in the nation (the other is oklahoma) that gives the Governor absolute Executive Power to reverse the decsions of suitability made by their appointed and senate-confirmed Commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings.

This codified law in the California Consitution places individuals who are found suitable for parole subject to the political profitability of the elected Head of State and how that will affect their re-election.


reject penal code 3041.2


The Governor's authority under Penal Code § 3041.2 to reverse parole decisions made by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) creates a politically burdensome and time-intensive review process. By self-imposing a moratorium on his exercise of this law, the Governor could fully delegate parole decisions to his Senate-confirmed parole commissioners, who are trained to consider all relevant, reliable information, [1] and who meet with parole candidates personally and evaluate credibility first-hand. The Governor would retain the power to trigger review by the BPH in cases of particular concern under Penal Code § 3041.1. With these protections, a moratorium would pose no harm to the public safety.

At the same time, a moratorium would offer many benefits: it would allow the Governor to conserve executive resources and focus on an affirmative agenda. It would make the parole review process more efficient, with fewer redundant hearings. It would conserve judicial resources statewide, insofar as parole reversals create a basis for litigation. It would spare the Governor being caught between constituencies in opposition or support of parole in individual cases, allowing him to remain above the fray and place responsibility for such decisions with the BPH. And it would bolster public confidence in the rule of law, insofar as politics should not influence the public safety decisions meant to govern parole suitability. [2] In light of these considerations, we urge Governor Newsom to announce a case-neutral moratorium on his exercise of the parole reversal power in line with his moratorium on the death penalty.

The undersigned believe this action would be in the best fiscal interests of the citizens of California, would protect public safety, and support the tenets of restorative justice, all of which are crucial to our success as a society.

1 Including the commitment offense, criminal history, and evidence of rehabilitation, among other factors. Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15, § 2281, subd. (b). 2 Only a handful of states currently allow this type of Governor’s action, and in December 2021 the Democratic legislature of Maryland eliminated its governor’s authority to reverse parole grants, citing the same concerns about politicization.

Authored by Laura Sheppard, Esq

notable supporters


Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ,activist, author, founder: Ministry Against the Death Penalty

Father Gregory Boyle, SJ, activist, author, founder: Homeboy Industries

Robert Price, Chairman: Price Philanthropies

Scott Budnick, film producer, activist, founder: Anti-Recidivism Coalition

Justin Brooks, Director: California Innocence Project

Don Specter, Executive Director: Prison Law Ofice

Heidi Rummel, USC Clinical Professor, Director: Parole Justice Works

Vanessa Nelson-Sloane, Director: Life Support Alliance

Karen Fleming, former Deputy Commissioner, Board of Parole Hearings


ACLU of Northern California, Executive Director: Abdi Soltani
San Francisco Public Defender's Office, Public Defender: Manohar Raju
San Diego Public Defender's Office, Public Defender: Randy Mize
Initiate Justice, Executive Director: Taina Angeli Vargas
UnCommon Law, Executive Diretor: Keith Wattley
Redemption Row California, Executive Director: Jen Baptiste Abreu
Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, Executive Director: George Galvis
Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance, Executive Director: Genevieve Jones-Wright


Brian Parry, Assistant Director of CDCR (ret.), FBI Contractor (ret.)
Peter Bollinger, Santa Ana Police Dept. Sergeant (ret.)
David Contreras, San Diego Police Dept. Detective Sergeant (ret.)
James W. Spertus, Assistant U.S. Attorney (ret.), now of Spertus, Landes & Umhofer, LLP


Rachelle Addair, Michael Beckman, Liz Bumer, Jeff Champlin, Elizabeth Comeau, Michael Dykstra, Ellen Eggers, Maya Emig, Karen Fleming, Marc Gardner, Joseph Haytas, Kony Kim, Diane Letarte, Tracy Lum, Joseph Magazenni, Rich Pfeiffer, Kathy Richards, Heidi Rummel, Marco Saldana, Benjamin Schiff, Laura Sheppard, Peraya Siriwong

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