California’s parole board doesn’t find convicted murderers suitable for release very often. And when the board granted parole in recent years, the inmate usually found the governor waiting to bar the door. Not Gov. Jerry Brown, says the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m obviously going to interfere less with the parole board than my predecessors, because I’m bound to follow the law,” Brown told the Chronicle. Statistics from his first four months in office bear him out.
Brown has reviewed 130 decisions by the Board of Parole Hearings granting release to murderers sentenced to life and has approved 106, or 81 percent. He has vetoed 22 paroles and sent two back to the board for new hearings. Fomer Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved about 30 percent of lifers’ paroles. Former Gov. Gray Davis – who declared that “if you take someone else’s life, forget it” – vetoed 98 percent of murderers’ parole cases. Brown said that both Davis and Schwarzenegger failed to follow proper legal standards for reviewing paroles. The governor also said his approach reflects shifts in sentencing practices, judicial rulings. and public attitudes on crime. “Now, you talk to people and they’re worried about jobs,” he said. “There’s still public safety (as a concern), but there’s different dominating issues.”