Brown allows parole for murderers at greater rate

February 10, 2012 12:33:18 AM PST
Victims' rights groups are outraged that Gov. Jerry Brown is allowing more convicted murderers to be paroled, than previous governors.

Crime Victims Action Alliance is calling on Brown to release more detailed information on the convicted killers whose release he declined to stop last year. The state parole board approved 400 releases -- just 10 percent of the cases -- and the governor reversed only 71 decisions. That gives Brown a higher release rate than his two predecessors.

Brown's release rate stands at 80 percent. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was less generous, denying freedom nearly a quarter of the time. And Gov. Gray Davis was the stingiest, keeping most lifers behind bars, letting only 2 percent go.

"Under this administration, it seems very much the flood gates have been opened and just let them go free. That concerns us terribly," said Christine Ward from the Crime Victims Action Alliance.

"The rates may be different, but the result has been the same," said Brown's spokesman, Evan Westrup.

The Brown administration points out this governor is only following the law, that other governors were not. Under the Schwarzenegger administration, for instance, the courts stepped in and let almost paroled killers go despite what that governor wanted.

"Other governors have routinely flouted the law and ignored the law and what the law says is that if an individual has been deemed not a threat to public safety, then the governor must allow the parole decision to stand," said Westrup.

Brown's aides say the streets are not any more dangerous. Stanford University found that of the 860 murderers released since 1995, only five were arrested for another crime, none violent --- that's less than one-half of 1 percent.

"We feel good about these decisions. They're reasoned, they're thorough and we're confident," said Westrup in reference to the Governor's reversals.

While Charles Manson follower Tex Watson was denied parole for the 17th time in 2011, crime victims groups wonder about the next time.

"Many of the Manson clan have done perfect in prison and they could very well end up being in front of the governor someday who unfortunately, at this rate, may let them out," said Ward.

The governor's office also says that a federal court order to reduce the prison population was not a factor in parole dictions.


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