(a) (1) In the case of any inmate sentenced pursuant to any law, other than Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 1170) of Title 7 of Part 2, the Board of Parole Hearings shall meet with each inmate during the sixth year before the inmate’s minimum eligible parole date for the purposes of reviewing and documenting the inmate’s activities and conduct pertinent to parole eligibility. During this consultation, the board shall provide the inmate information about the parole hearing process, legal factors relevant to his or her suitability or unsuitability for parole, and individualized recommendations for the inmate regarding his or her work assignments, rehabilitative programs, and institutional behavior. Within 30 days following the consultation, the board shall issue its positive and negative findings and recommendations to the inmate in writing.
(2) One year before the inmate’s minimum eligible parole date a panel of two or more commissioners or deputy commissioners shall again meet with the inmate and shall normally grant parole as provided in Section 3041.5. No more than one member of the panel shall be a deputy commissioner.
(3) In the event of a tie vote, the matter shall be referred for an en banc review of the record that was before the panel that rendered the tie vote. Upon en banc review, the board shall vote to either grant or deny parole and render a statement of decision. The en banc review shall be conducted pursuant to subdivision (e).
(4) Upon a grant of parole, the inmate shall be released subject to all applicable review periods. However, an inmate shall not be released before reaching his or her minimum eligible parole date as set pursuant to Section 3046 unless the inmate is eligible for earlier release pursuant to his or her youth offender parole eligibility date or elderly parole eligible date.
(5) At least one commissioner of the panel shall have been present at the last preceding meeting, unless it is not feasible to do so or where the last preceding meeting was the initial meeting. Any person on the hearing panel may request review of any decision regarding parole for an en banc hearing by the board. In case of a review, a majority vote in favor of parole by the board members participating in an en banc review is required to grant parole to any inmate.
(b) (1) The panel or the board, sitting en banc, shall grant parole to an inmate unless it determines that the gravity of the current convicted offense or offenses, or the timing and gravity of current or past convicted offense or offenses, is such that consideration of the public safety requires a more lengthy period of incarceration for this individual.
(2) After July 30, 2001, any decision of the parole panel finding an inmate suitable for parole shall become final within 120 days of the date of the hearing. During that period, the board may review the panel’s decision. The panel’s decision shall become final pursuant to this subdivision unless the board finds that the panel made an error of law, or that the panel’s decision was based on an error of fact, or that new information should be presented to the board, any of which when corrected or considered by the board has a substantial likelihood of resulting in a substantially different decision upon a rehearing. In making this determination, the board shall consult with the commissioners who conducted the parole consideration hearing.
(3) A decision of a panel shall not be disapproved and referred for rehearing except by a majority vote of the board, sitting en banc, following a public meeting.
(c) For the purpose of reviewing the suitability for parole of those inmates eligible for parole under prior law at a date earlier than that calculated under Section 1170.2, the board shall appoint panels of at least two persons to meet annually with each inmate until the time the person is released pursuant to proceedings or reaches the expiration of his or her term as calculated under Section 1170.2.
(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that, during times when there is no backlog of inmates awaiting parole hearings, life parole consideration hearings, or life rescission hearings, hearings will be conducted by a panel of three or more members, the majority of whom shall be commissioners. The board shall report monthly on the number of cases where an inmate has not received a completed initial or subsequent parole consideration hearing within 30 days of the hearing date required by subdivision (a) of Section 3041.5 or paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 3041.5, unless the inmate has waived the right to those timeframes. That report shall be considered the backlog of cases for purposes of this section, and shall include information on the progress toward eliminating the backlog, and on the number of inmates who have waived their right to the above timeframes. The report shall be made public at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board and a written report shall be made available to the public and transmitted to the Legislature quarterly.
(e) For purposes of this section, an en banc review by the board means a review conducted by a majority of commissioners holding office on the date the matter is heard by the board. An en banc review shall be conducted in compliance with the following:
(1) The commissioners conducting the review shall consider the entire record of the hearing that resulted in the tie vote.
(2) The review shall be limited to the record of the hearing. The record shall consist of the transcript or audiotape of the hearing, written or electronically recorded statements actually considered by the panel that produced the tie vote, and any other material actually considered by the panel. New evidence or comments shall not be considered in the en banc proceeding.
(3) The board shall separately state reasons for its decision to grant or deny parole.
(4) A commissioner who was involved in the tie vote shall be recused from consideration of the matter in the en banc review.
(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 676, Sec. 1. (AB 1448) Effective January 1, 2018.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018