A life prison sentence in California no longer lasts a lifetime, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Statistics show that more and more lifers are being released from prison–an increase of more than 1,000 percent from 1990 to 2013. In 2009, 221 lifer inmates were released from prison on parole, more than twice the number from the year before. In 2013, the total reached a high of 596 lifers released. As of June 20, 284 had been released this year.
Authorities say the higher numbers are primarily the result of a state Supreme Court decision in 2008 that set a new legal standard for the Board of Parole Hearings and the Governor's Office to use when determining who is suitable for parole. That standard is focused not just on the circumstances of the inmate's offense, but whether he or she poses a current threat to public safety. If not, the inmate may be released. Gov. Jerry Brown's office has stressed that increased lifer paroles have had nothing to do with a federal court mandate to reduce overcrowding in California's prisons.