California Dept. of Corrections v. Morales, 514 U.S. 499, 14 (1995)

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Opinion of the Court

peated violent crimes both in prison and while on parole could perhaps expect a 3-year delay between suitability hearings, while a prisoner who poses a lesser threat to the "public safety," see 3041(b), might receive only a 2-year delay. In light of the particularized findings required under the amendment and the broad discretion given to the Board, the narrow class of prisoners covered by the amendment cannot reasonably expect that their prospects for early release on parole would be enhanced by the opportunity of annual hearings. For these prisoners, the amendment simply allows the Board to avoid the futility of going through the motions of reannouncing its denial of parole suitability on a yearly basis.

Respondent suggests that there is some chance that the amendment might nevertheless produce an increased term of confinement for some prisoners who might experience a change of circumstances that could render them suitable for parole during the period between their hearings. Brief for Respondent 39. Respondent fails, however, to provide any support for his speculation that the multiple murderers and other prisoners subject to the amendment might experience an unanticipated change that is sufficiently monumental to alter their suitability for release on parole. Even if we assume the possibility of such a change, moreover, there is no reason to conclude that the amendment will have any effect on any prisoner's actual term of confinement, for the current record provides no basis for concluding that a prisoner who experiences a drastic change of circumstances would be precluded from seeking an expedited hearing from the Board. Indeed, the California Supreme Court has suggested that under the circumstances hypothesized by respondent "the Board could advance the suitability hearing," In re Jackson, supra, at 475, 703 P. 2d, at 107, and the California Department of Corrections indicates in its brief that the Board's "practice" is to "review for merit any communication from an inmate asking for an earlier suitability hearing," Reply

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