The California Democratic-led State Legislature cleared a major obstacle Friday by passing a bill that could allow killers who are serving life sentences without parole to be resentenced.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee has advanced Senate Bill 94 to the next voting phase. California prisoners serving life sentences without parole for certain crimes could petition for a resentencing after 25 years if they committed the crime before June 5, 1989.
Exemptions would apply to those convicted of murder in the first degree of a policeman. Re-sentenced prisoners would be able to go before a parole board at some point, who could deny their release.
In a post on social media, Dave Cortese (a Democrat from New York who introduced the bill) said he was simply “thrilled” that his key bills had passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Cortese’s Office was contacted.
Jessica Millan Patterson, California Republican Party chair, released a statement saying that she was not shocked by the passage of Senate Bill 94 out of the Democrat-controlled Assembly Appropriations Committee. California Democrats continue to send an unmistakable message to Californians. They would rather protect violent killers than concentrate their efforts on protecting victims and true public safety.
Assemblyman Bill Essayli is a Republican and a former federal prosecutor. He believes that those who are sentenced to life in prison for crimes so heinous should serve the full term of their sentence, even if it means they will never be eligible for parole.
“Killing 2 people with aggravating circumstances doesn’t justify a LWOP? “Is it not wrong to be an accomplice of a mass killer?” he asked. “Killing an officer of the peace is heinous enough, but killing a public official or firefighter is not? These exclusions have a purely political basis.”
He added that “LWOP sentences promise to the victims’ families that they will never have to worry about the person being released from prison.” This will allow a high percentage of LWOP defendants to be resentenced as standard first-degree killers and eligible for parole right away.
Essayli stated that many juries, victim families, and defendants agree to LWOP if they are assured that the person charged will never be released.
He said, “Now we’re trying to get them out.”
SB 94 was passed by the majority Democratic state Senate in April before it moved to the Assembly.