In his first seven months as California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger has paroled 34 murderers and kidnappers, reports the Associated Press. Only eight lifers were paroled during Gov. Gray Davis’ 4 1/2 years in office. Justin Brooks of the California Innocence Project said fears of a Willie Horton-type incident (referring to the murderer’s furlough that played a part in Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential defeat) led Davis to reject parole with little regard to the merits of cases. AP detailed a case in which Davis rejected parole but Schwarzenegger granted it.
Schwarzenegger’s legal secretary, Peter Siggins, said the governor “believes people can reform and be reformed.” Davis rejected release for 286 lifers recommended for parole by the state Board of Prison Terms. Of 95 recommendations sent to Schwarzenegger as of June 2, he reversed 58 and sent three for further review. Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office, which represents inmates, complained that Schwarzenegger is “still reversing more than 50 percent of cases that the board is granting parole on.”