Parole Refusals Hit the Court

The California Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether Governor Gray Davis' refusal to grant to any killers violates the law.

"Soon after he took office, Gov. Gray Davis told a newspaper reporter that any inmate serving time for murder in California was not going to get out during his watch. "

He's kept his word. "What the governor is doing is fundamentally unlawful -- but politically astute," said Franklin Zimring, a criminal law professor at Berkeley's Boalt School of Law. Prisoners -- especially those convicted of murder -- don't have a large voter constituency, he said. "

"The governor's policy, his critics say, has turned every murderer's sentence into life without possibility of, regardless of any mitigating factors. "

The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle have been particularly critical of Davis' no policy in recent weeks. Read, for example, Wasted Money, Wasted Lives

Last year the Board, hardly a conservative group, granted to 140 inmates. Davis vetoed all but two.

"When a judge issues a sentence that includes the words "with possibility of," it reflects our society's belief that a small number of criminals can be rehabilitated, as well as our constitutional right to a fair and impartial hearing."

"One of the important reasons for a system is to give inmates a strong incentive to follow the rules and to turn their lives around."

"The governor should uphold the board's ruling. If not, perhaps Davis could explain why Californians should continue to pay for the work of an agency and commission he repeatedly ignores. "

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