A new court ruling makes more prisoners eligible for parole hearings, according to the Second Appellate District’s recent decision.
The ruling makes persons with violent convictions eligible for parole consideration under Prop. 57—if their crimes include a non-violent offense.
Previously, inmates with violent offenses were not given parole consideration even if they had a nonviolent offense that they were also serving time for. CDCR Title 15, subsection 3490(a) describes a “determinately-sentenced non-violent offender” through a system of exclusion. Six case factors are listed, which make an inmate ineligible for non- violent parole consideration. Factor #5 excludes an inmate from Prop. 57 eligibility if he or she is “currently serving a term of incarceration for a ‘violent felony.’”
The court’s ruling now al- lows violent offenders parole consideration if they were also convicted of a non-violent felony offense and had served the full term of their primary offense.
Mohammad Mohammad was convicted of nine counts of second degree robbery, which are violent felonies under PC 667.5©. He was also convicted of six counts of receiving stolen property, which are non-violent felonies. He was deemed ineligible for pa- role eligibility due to his violent felony convictions.
Mohammad filed an unsuccessful administrative appeal to grieve his lack of eligibility. He then filed a writ of habeas corpus with the superior court. It was denied. He then petitioned the court of appeals with a writ of habeas corpus arguing that he should be eligible for Prop. 57 parole due to his base term being a receiving stolen property conviction. His petition was granted.
Section 32(a)(1) of the California Constitution makes early parole hearings available to “any person convicted of a non-violent felony offense”
upon completion of “the full term of his or her primary offense.”
“The phrase ‘a’ nonviolent felony offense takes the singular form, which indicates it applies to an inmate so long as he or she commits ‘a’ single nonviolent felony offense-even if that offense is not his or her only offense,” the court of appeals stated in their Nov. 26 publication.
The court relied heavily upon the text of Prop. 57. The plain meaning of the law’s words compelled their decision.
New regulations are on the way. The Mohammed decision may set a precedent for cases throughout the state.
However, it’s important to note that just because a per- son is eligible for a parole hearing under this new interpretation of the law does not mean he will be paroled. The parole board will take into account that person’s full criminal history when determining whether he poses a risk to public safety.