In California’s fickle parole system, prisoners serving life terms have had a much better chance of release under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger than his predecessor, Gray Davis, the San Jose Mercury News reports. A review of the 126 cases in which Schwarzenegger paroled lifers shows that dozens involved the same inmates Davis rejected. To experts, it’s a clear sign that a Republican governor with a “Terminator” role on his résumé feels better insulated against attack on the issue than a Democrat worried about looking soft on crime.
The odds are still against convicted murderers and others serving life terms because Schwarzenegger reverses his parole board’s decision to release lifers about 75 percent of the time. He let 126 of these inmates go free in his three years in office, while Davis paroled just nine lifers in about five years. Schwarzenegger has nearly surpassed former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who allowed 132 lifer inmates to be paroled in eight years. Lifer inmates striving for a chance for release depend on the luck of the draw from one governor to another.