Tuesday, September 22, 2020

On 9/15/20, AB 3234 (Elderly Parole Hearing) with lower requirement (50/20) was presented to the Gov. for signature

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND of Elderly Parole Hearing Bills:

Summary of the OLD Elderly Parole Hearing (50/15) Senate Bill that did NOT pass a few years ago, was SB224.

The original draft of Senate Bill [Sen. Carol Liu (Democrat), author of Senate Bill 224 (SB224)] required the Board of Parole Hearings  (BPH) to conduct a ELDERLY PAROLE HEARING for offenders sentence to State prison who have reached 50 years of age and have been incarcerated 15 years or more. SB 224 was withdrawn from consideration because it was felt that Bills which required a 2/3 majority vote on the legislative floor, could not be met.

NOTE: This would have been an expansion from the existing BPH regulation (from 3-Judge Panel) that was established in October 2014 to allow 60 yr. old inmates who have been incarcerated 25 years (60/25) or more to go to an Elderly Parole Hearing.

Summary of the NEW Elderly Parole Hearing (50/20) - AB3234, being signed by Gov.

Abstract & Author: Philip Y. Ting: California Assembly member Democrat District 19

Existing law establishes the Elderly Parole Program for the purpose of reviewing the parole suitability of inmates who are 60 years of age or older and who have served a minimum of 25 years of continuous incarceration on their sentence. This bill would modify the minimum age limitation for that program to 50 years of age and instead require the inmate to have served a minimum of 20 years of continuous incarceration in order to be eligible for that program.

On 9/15/20,  California State Legislature Enrolled and presented AB3234, the new  (Elderly Parole Hearing Bill) to the Governor at 3 p.m. for his signature of Approval.

Since AB 3234 has passed and from all indications will be signed by the Gov, elderly parole goes from the current 60 yrs old and at least 25 yrs on incarceration (60/25 requirement) to 50/20 requirement.   What a WIN!!!

Although the Bill specifically excludes 3Xers, as did the previous bill that codified elderly parole.  It appears according the Vanessa (LSA guru and founder) --> that BPH's legal staff stated [in reference to 3Xers and elderly: ]

   “We would continue to follow the three judge panel (3JP) order criteria for those inmates who are excluded from elderly parole under AB3234 for as long as the three judge panel order remains intact. This will require us [BPH] to set up a double track process for those eligible under the Penal Code and those under the three judge panel order.”  

So for now, and as long as the 3JP is still around, 3’Xers will continue to be included in elderly parole considerations.  
The BIG QUESTION remains: Will BPH continue the 3’Xers under the current 60/25 requirement or will BPH apply the new 50/20 requirement to the 3X'er - STAY TUNE....

Keep in mind that the whole Intent under 3JP was to reduce the population. Thus, excluding an entire section of 3X'er elderly inmates (that are not 50/20 candidates) would conflict with the goal to reduce the population.  We speculate that BPH will apply the 50/20 elderly age requirement across the Board to all those inmates.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

CLEMENCY: Commutation, Compassionate or Medical release; HOW TO GET THE PROPER ATTENTION TO GET OUT!

To be considered in the plans, criteria and how to tap into the early releases actually happening in the wake of CoVid, it’s important to make yourself seen. As those criteria keep changing—almost daily, how do you bring yourself to the attention of those making these decisions? Get in the right "bucket".

 COMMUTATION:  People who have been convicted of a crime and are currently serving their sentence in California may apply for a commutation (reduction of sentence).  Applicants will be notified when the Governor takes action on a commutation application.  NOTE: If you submitted a commutation application to a prior governor and did not receive notice of a commutation grant, your application is deemed closed. You can re-submit a new application with THIS Governor Newsom. NOTE you can only file this Application - once every 3-year. If you want to retain an experienced law firm please contact the LAW OFFICE OF DIANE T. LETARTE (619-233-3688) or view our website RenegadeAttorney.Com

COMPASSIONATE RELEASE:  or recall of sentence, is available to California inmates who are terminally ill and have six month or less to live. Medical Parole is available to inmates who are incapacitated or in a vegetative state and requires 24-hour skilled nursing care.

MEDICAL RELEASE:  A medical parole hearing is a hearing to determine if an inmate who is permanently medically incapacitated should be placed in a licensed health care facility in the community. Eligible inmates are referred to the Board for an expanded medical parole hearing.

 This BLOG addresses more the COMMUTATION ASPECT: In deciding whether to grant a commutation, the Governor’s Office will carefully review each commutation application and consider:

  • the impact of a commutation on the community, including whether the grant is consistent with public safety and in the interests of justice;
  • the age and circumstances of the offense and the sentence imposed, and the age of the applicant at the time;
  • the applicant’s self-development and conduct since the offense, including whether the applicant has made use of available rehabilitative programs and has identified and addressed treatment needs;
  • the applicant’s need for a commutation; and
  • the applicant’s plans upon release from custody.

The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH), a division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, investigates commutation applications. The investigation will include a review of the applicant’s criminal history records, court and police records, and records and information about the applicant’s period of incarceration from the applicant’s C-File and other sources.

Information provided on the commutation application can be used by CDCR’s statistical and research division to identify those individuals who qualify for consideration under release criteria, such as those with less than 5 years to serve, over the age of 65, with CoVid-sensitive medical needs, low CRA (or CSRA) scores, and more. As CDCR and the Governor look at various cohorts to find individuals within those groups who seem likely candidates for early release, those data points can place you in the ‘bucket’ of those being considered. Best advice from those in the know in Sacramento—put in a commutation petition, knowing it will be for reasons other than the Governor’s scrutiny for commutation. 

For decades commutations were a long shot, until about mid-way through former Gov. Edmund G. Brown’s term, when Brown began to use the commutation power to right some of the wrongs of sentencing. Current Gov. Gavin Newsom has continued that path, to some degree, and now, under the pressure of CoVid19 and overcrowding, commutation applications can provide a new avenue to at least consideration for release.

The Petition can be found on the Governor’s website, in the law library, probably from CDCR's counselors; present the factors of your situation that make you vulnerable to CoVid complications.

For Example: Are you over 65? Underlying medical conditions that make you ripe for CoVid complications (high blood pressure, COPED, diabetes, cancer, other ailments)? What’s your disciplinary history? What’s your Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA) rating (Low)? How long have you served? Are you up for consideration SB1437 (Felony Murder resentencing) per CA Penal Code 1170 (d) but the court hasn’t acted on your case yet? If you’re a Determinate Sentence inmate (DSL), do you have less than 12 months to serve? If you’re a Lifer with a 3 year denial and an Administrative Review (AR) already approved but the hearing date not yet arrived, point that out in your application. Are you seeking compassionate release, but the process hasn’t been completed? Have you received a terminal diagnosis, and been given a 12-month life expectancy from medical? Are you eligible to seek medical parole consideration?

All of these are factors that might put you in the spotlight for early release consideration. Make CDCR aware of them—sure, they can eventually work their way down to you, but cut to the chase, give them the info up front. No guarantee, but in these uncertain times, it pays to try everything.

----- Thank you to Vanessa at LSA for the Insight into some of the COMMUTATION information and the new Governor's factors along with the Medical overlay of  COVID19  in the mix.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The "new normal" at the Law Office of Diane T. Letarte

Message from Attorney Diane T. Letarte:

We have received many phone calls and an uptake in legal US mail from all 35 State Prisons' inmates.

In order to keep up with the "New Normal" given the constraints, our Legal Team adapted our new model of parole hearing preparation to respond to the limitations on in-person legal visiting due to the constraints of COVID-19.

The new Model includes advocating for private attorney-client phone calls, Longer time limits on the prison phone calls, we  expanded our legal staff hours of operations (behind the scene assistance) to reach more clients and provide more resources and information to people inside. We are also  on-boarding attorneys “of counsel” to assist us provide more parole consultation resources via personnel written communication feedback directly from the attorney, on most of the written responses. 

The client prison communication now includes reviewing their Parole Packets organization as well as reviewing their Relapse Prevention Plan and their Apology letters to the victim(s). We worked with the families of the incarcerated  in order to supplement the Parole Packet, getting support letters. We have increase our in-office equipment to assist with scanning and uploading our clients' Parole Packet (PP) directly to the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) to ensure the electronic delivery of the PP. This eliminates the need for the inmate to "bring" any copies to his parole hearing since the Commissioners are NOT in the room in the prison but actually Remotely located, with only an electronic copy of the inmates' Central file(s) and the electronic Parole Packet provided by our law office.

We have allowed more of an "open-door policy" for family members to contact our law office via telephone or emails to get updates on their loved ones and the latest CDCR information, that we have available. Our email monitoring as been increased to include Saturday and on occasion Sunday responses, depending on the urgency of the communication.

Our staff continues their work providing direct services such as accepting collect calls - sometimes beyond our 5pm office hours. In addition we are providing additional written resources to our clients on the inside, and most importantly, bringing Lifers (and long Term Offenders) safely home from prison, as soon as possible. 

We do not do any Civil Litigation regarding COVID19 medical Issues. We focus on Parole Suitability Hearings (via Audio/Video) at this time. We DO appreciate your cooperation and patience while we try hard to respond to all the surplus incoming Legal mail from the prisons.  

Attorney Diane T. Letarte, MBA, LLM and
M.S. Forensic Psychology

Former President - NC Lawyers Club
Judge Pro Tem - Superior Court of California
1080 Park Blvd., Suite 1008
San Diego, CA 92101

888-400-6082  E-fax and