California Dept. of Corrections v. Morales, 514 U.S. 499, 12 (1995)

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510

CALIFORNIA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS v. MORALES

Opinion of the Court

statutory scheme would be "more onerous" than under the old one).6

First, the amendment applies only to a class of prisoners for whom the likelihood of release on parole is quite remote. The amendment enabled the Board to extend the time between suitability hearings only for those prisoners who have been convicted of "more than one offense which involves the taking of a life." Cal. Penal Code Ann. 3041.5(b)(2) (West 1982).7 The California Supreme Court has noted that about

6 The dissent suggests that any "speculation" as to the effect of the amendment on prison terms should "ru[n] in the other direction," post, at 525, but this approach effectively shifts to the State the burden of persuasion as to respondent's ex post facto claim. Not surprisingly, the dissent identifies no support for its attempt to undo the settled rule that a claimant must bear the risk of nonpersuasion as to the existence of an alleged constitutional violation. Although we have held that a party asserting an ex post facto claim need not carry the burden of showing that he would have been sentenced to a lesser term under the measure or range of punishments in place under the previous statutory scheme, see Lindsey v. Washington, 301 U. S., at 401, we have never suggested that the challenging party may escape the ultimate burden of establishing that the measure of punishment itself has changed. Indeed, elimination of that burden would eviscerate the view of the Ex Post Facto Clause that we reaffirmed in Collins. Just as "[t]he inhibition upon the passage of ex post facto laws does not give a criminal a right to be tried, in all respects, by the law in force when the crime charged was committed," Gibson v. Mississippi, 162 U. S. 565, 590 (1896), neither does it require that the sentence be carried out under the identical legal regime that previously prevailed.

7 The dissent mischaracterizes our analysis in suggesting that we somehow have concocted a "reduced" standard of judicial scrutiny for application to "a narrow group as unpopular . . . as multiple murderers." Post, at 522. The ex post facto standard we apply today is constant: It looks to whether a given legislative change has the prohibited effect of altering the definition of crimes or increasing punishments. Our application of that standard necessarily considers a number of factors—including, in this case, that the 1981 amendment targets a group of prisoners whom the California Legislature deemed less likely than others to secure early release on parole—but the constitutional standard is neither "enhanced" nor

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