Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Senate Concurrent Resolution SCR 48: What is it and How would it impact Inmates?

Our law office received several inquiries on SCR 48, thus it was best to provide a good article Excerpt from the July 2017 LSA Newsletter - written by Vanessa Nelson of LSA.


A basic understanding of the legislative process starts with knowing the difference between AB and SB bills; in California as well nationally, there are two houses in the legislature.

In California those are the state Senate and the Assembly. Bills (potential laws) that originate in the Senate are labeled SB, and those starting in the Assembly as AB.

So what is an SCR?  SCR stands for Senate Concurrent Resolution. Breaking it down, this piece of quasi-legislation originated in the Senate, concurrent means the other chamber (the Assembly) agrees, with the language, the resolution.

More particularly, what is SCR 48, where is it in the legislative process and what, if anything, will it do to change laws relative to lifers? The short answer to the last part of the question is; nothing, yet.

According to the California legislature, a Continuing Resolution is “A measure that can be introduced in either House, but must be approved by both Houses and filed with the Secretary of State to take effect. The Governor’s signature is not required.” In fact, the resolution is not even submitted to the Governor, and thus a resolution, even one approved by both houses of the legislature, does not have the force of law.

In this case, SCR 48, which has passed the Senate and has good chance of passage in the Assembly, expresses the intention of the legislature to “recognize the need for statutory changes to more equitably sentence offenders in accordance with their involvement in the crime.” Specifically, if this resolution at some point becomes the basis for a bill, it would impact the felony murder law.

Quoting from the language of the resolution: “It is a bedrock principle of the law and of equity that a person should be punished for his or her actions according to his or her own level of individual culpability; reform is needed in California to limit convictions and subsequent sentencing in both felony murder cases and aider and abettor matters prosecuted under “natural and probable consequences” doctrine so that the law of California fairly addresses the culpability of the individual.” The language continues, the felony murder rule is “is fundamentally unfair and in violation of basic principles of individual criminal culpability,” and “In California, people who commit a felony are not sentenced according to their individual level of culpability.

Cut to the chase, after several more ‘whereas’ statements, which lay out all the issues with the felony murder law, the resolution gets around to business, that the legislature “recognizes the need for statutory changes to more equitably sentence offenders in accordance with their involvement in the crime.”

Thus the legislature has expressed its collective feeling that the felony murder rule is inappropriate, unjust and costly. Now, if only next legislative session, someone will just take that resolution and turn it into an actual Bill, passage of which could actually change that the law.


A BIG THANK YOU [to our strong Lifer Advocate Vanessa Nelson] out of the Sacramento area which is well located (in the Capital city) to advocate and support new laws.

**  EXCERPT from: Vanessa Nelson-Sloane’s Article from the from Life Support Alliance (LSA) July 2017 newsletter - thank you for clarifying SCR 48 and its process in the law making procedures.


  1. Hello, thank you for the emails update about new changes in law. However, me and a lot of people have some questions that we are not really getting clear answers to that maybe you can help me with. PEOPLE who were under 25 years of age are now getting second chances or hope at paroling if their crime was committed under the age of 25. Reason being because of brain development and the inability to understand risk taking etc etc. However, each law EXCLUDES people who we sentenced to LWOP. Our question is 1) why? 2) what's the difference in brain development, for a person under 25, who was sentenced to LWOP and one who was not sentenced to LWOP?. Why are the LWOP youth being excluded 18-25? Seems like a equal protection violation and the law is not fair. Also it appears SCR48 is just a tease, said to have been to educate legislators on the FMR. The FMR has been around for a very long time, we think everyone knows what it is. Thank you so much for your push, but we are starting to get very frustrated with several years of broken promises, and we want all of our youths home. Regardless of their sentence. Thank you very much, Truly Anthony

    1. This is a very complicated area of the law. In simple terms LWOP laws and Three Strikes laws are too complex to be answered herein. Sufficient to say that the Youth Offender laws had to be carved to not impact certain prior laws otherwise we would not have been able to pass (or expand) the Youth Parole Laws.
      Reform is needed in California to limit convictions but when and how SCR48 will come to flourish is anyone's guess.