Many Lifers hoped that the California Supreme Court decision in In re Lawrence would automatically open the door and set them free. The Lawrence case has invalidated the pattern and practice of using the crime itself to continually deny parole without an articulation of, and factual support for, a finding of a “nexus between those factors and the necessary basis for the ultimate decision – the determination of current dangerousness.”
A LONG HISTORY
However, on the same day it decided Lawrence, the Supreme Court held that there was some evidence that another inmate posed a current danger to public safety because the inmate had a long history of abusive, violent, sadistic behavior toward his wives and daughters, especially after consuming alcohol. He never developed an understanding of his alcoholism and had difficulty discussing his daughter’s allegation of rape, incest and domestic violence. (In re Shaputis ).
In most board hearing transcripts that I have read, where suitability of parole is denied , it appears that the board is using the language of the latter case as a template to deny parole. The board either ignored the psychological evaluations that determine that the prisoner poses a “low threat” to public safety if released, or disagreed and replaced it with their own findings. Lifers need to do more work and continue to push the door open.
Lawrence is only a roadmap to follow in seeking parole through the board and courts. I recommend that everyone read this case and use it to prepare for the board and courts. Although it would be nice if everyone could afford to hire an attorney to prepare a petition for writ of habeas corpus, several Lifers in North Block and beyond have succeeded in filing their petition for writ of habeas corpus without an attorney.
The Judicial Council has prepared an application for petition of writ of habeas corpus with the nonprofessionals, or lay person, in mind. The form, MC-275, can be found in the law library and has straight up questions that can be answered with a simple sentence, or yes or no. The instructions are clear. For example, on page one, the petitioner must put his name and address, the name of the court, the title of the case (petitioner’s name vs. the warden’s name).
On page two, check the box that says “Parole” and state your name, where you are incarcerated, what is the nature of the offense, what penal code violation you were convicted of, etc. On page three, you state your claim (Who did what, when they did it, and how the court should remedy the violation). For example, using the Lawrence case, one can claim: “The board of parole hearings violated petitioner’s state and federal due process when they failed to provide a nexus of his current dangerousness when it denied him parole for three years.”
This is just an example. You will then explain briefly in part (a) “Supporting facts:” That on the date of the hearing, petitioner appeared before the BPH for his nth subsequent hearing and was denied parole for x-years.
The board stated the reasons are as follows …. The record or state and federal law do not support the board’s findings. The psychological and petitioner’s prison behavior supports a suitability finding and the board did not provide any evidence that petitioner is a current threat to the public if released on parole.
In part (b) submit supporting cases which a current listing of can be found in the law library.