After attending the mandatory October 2013 ADA (American with Disabilities Act) training Seminar for the BPH State appointed LIFER attorneys, several questions were answered as it related to the new up and coming Youth Offender Hearing, among others. Below is a summary of information pulled from several resources, including BPH's Chief Counsel Howard Moseley
SB 260, creates a new type of parole hearing, known as the Youth Offender Hearing (Penal Code 3051), which will be conducted much like the current LIFER parole hearings. The added BONUS element to be vigorously argued by the Criminal Defense attorney will be the "age" of the offender at the time of the Crime (not the conviction date).
We (Law office of Diane T. Letarte) always argued the Age for specific LIFERS that were young at the time of the comitted offense, but it always seemed to fall on deaf (Commissioners') ears in the past. Now with SB 260 and the new Directives to the Commissioners, basically that the “hallmarks” of youth (lack of maturity, flawed reasoning skills, susceptible to manipulation) be given “great weight” in suitability deliberations. Furthermore new psychological evaluations will also be given to those covered under the new law, again with “great weight” given to the characteristics of youth when making psychological risk assessments reports. Even if the inmate is not provided a Grant of Parole at the Youth Hearing, the age will still carry "great weight" in the length of time the denial will be (3, 5, 7,10,15 years), but still under Marsy's Law standard.
On the other hand, if the inmate is found Suitable, the inmate will be immediately eligible for parole (release) since they met the "time" criteria for the Youth Offender Hearing to be allowed the Hearing. This means there will be no TERM calculations needed at deliberation time, like the regular LIFER inmates who get found suitable.
Who will be eligible for the Youth Offender Hearing?
The BPH is currently evaluating all those previously denied prisoners who are eligible for Youth Offender Hearing consideration with a focus towards advancing their next hearing in a timely fashion. The bill does allows for an 18 month implementation window, beginning Jan. 1, 2014, during which time the BPH will identify those whose hearing should be advanced as well as some individuals who may be entitled to an initial hearing (earlier than before) or consideration earlier than anticipated under their original sentence.
A certain amount of time will need to be first served by the inmates as states below:
• DSL: eligible at the 15th year of incarceration
• ISL: (Life term) less than 25 years: eligible at the 20th year of incarceration
• ISL: (Life term) greater than 25 years: eligible at the 25th year of incarceration
In summary, with the signing of SB 260 there will be many inmates who immediately qualify, for a parole hearing, and others who already qualify for a parole hearing and will now need to be considered in light of the new law. Those inmates that have already went to their Parole Hearing (pre-SB 260) and were denied parole may consider filing a Petition to Advance (PTA) their hearing given the "NEW CIRCUMSTANCES", in their case, the new law.
Given the SB 9 for Juvenile LWOP passed last year [that were modified to Life with possibility of Parole], they may now also take advantage of the new SB 260 this year and possibly apply for a Youth Offender Hearing.
Contact an experience LIFER Attorney to maneuver though the maze of options now available for the Youth Offender Hearings option, among others.