Jerry Brown upheld 80% of parole recommendations in 2012

The Sacramento Bee

Capitol Alert

Gov. Jerrey Brown Gov. Jerry Brown continued last year to use his power to block decisions of the state parole board relatively sparingly, letting about 80 percent of convicted killers’ parole releases stand.

Brown reversed 91 of 470 parole grants in 2012 and returned two cases to the state Board of Parole Hearings for reconsideration, according to a report to the Legislature released today.

Brown’s record in 2012 is similar to the first year of his term, when he let stand roughly 82 percent of parole board decisions.

Brown, a Democrat, is far more deferential to the state parole board than either of California’s previous two governors. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, allowed only about 27 percent of paroled killers to be released from prison.

Schwarzenegger’s Democratic predecessor, Gray Davis, allowed only about 2 percent of paroled killers to be released.

The governor has the power to affirm, modify or reverse the parole board’s decisions in such cases, but a reversal requires evidence that an inmate remains dangerous.

“Governors must follow the law,” said Evan Westrup, a Brown spokesman, “Governors who have routinely ignored the law have had their decisions overturned in court.” In 2011, Westrup said, California courts reconsidered 144 parole reversals by Schwarzenegger, overturning 106.

Brown is currently weighing whether to allow the parole of a former Charles Manson follower, Bruce Davis. Brown has until early March to make a decision, after the parole board found Davis suitable for parole.