Saturday, April 24, 2021

BPH's emergency Regulations state the Board is not required to give Comprehensive Risk Assessments (CRA) under certain grounds

 Our law office is getting  many questions regarding the Board of Parole Hearings adopting emergency  regulations regarding Title 15 Ca. Code of Regs. Section 2240 (d); the code that solidified the Comprehensive Risk Assessments (CRA, a.k.a. Psychological evaluation) and its use in parole suitability hearings.  

The increase in the number of people eligible for a parole hearing and number of postponements due to COVID-19 have created an overwhelming demand for parole hearings. This increase in the demand for hearings has also resulted in an overwhelming demand for Comprehensive Risk Assessments (CRAs).

In an effort to provide the most people with parole hearings, the Board has adopted emergency regulations. The Board's emergency regulations explain that risk assessments will not be required for all parole consideration hearings. The Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) recognizes the inmates’ right to a timely parole hearing. The new Regulations DO NOT change the current Parole Hearing schedule nor does it exclude any Lifers (or Long-Term Offender) from having their set Parole Hearing held.

Specifically, these regulations state the Board is not required to prepare a Comprehensive Risk Assessment (CRA) for parole hearings scheduled to occur between April 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 if the inmate:

1) is  designated by the department (CDCR) to be Security Level IV   and
2) have received two or more serious 115s between January 1, 2018 and Jan 1, 2022.

Will it automatically mean a denial for those impacted by the change? Not necessarily.
This means that if a Lifer who fits the criteria has received a HIGH-risk rating on a past CRA s/he will not receive a new CRA. Keep in mind that less than 1% of those individuals up for parole who present with a HIGH-risk rating are granted parole.

In short, one would need to have 2 serious RVRs within 3 years; the likelihood of  a FAD (BPH) clinician reducing their risk rating (whether from high to moderate or moderate to low) is, almost impossible.  So, while those who fall under these new Regs will not get a new CRA, even if that current document is older than 3 years, they will still get a parole hearing at the scheduled date and time. And they still have the opportunity, uphill battle though it may be, to convince the parole panel of their suitability.

IN SHORT: if you are a Security Level IV inmate, with 2 or more serious RVRs between January 2018 and January 2021 in your jacket, you won’t be getting a new free CRA from BPH! Your hearing will go forward UNLESS the inmates waive or postpone their hearing.

If the inmate believes there was an error and s/he does not meet the grounds for not getting a CRA you or your attorney may challenge the decision not to prepare a CRA, by writing a letter to the Board Chief Counsel; PO BOX 4036; Sacramento, CA 95812-4036. Your letter must be received by the Board at least 30 days before the scheduled hearing to allow time for a pre-hearing response.   

If there is a change in your physical or mental health condition since your last RVR that would be relevant to determining your suitability for parole, you or your attorney may request a CRA. The written request must explain the change and how it is relevant to determining your suitability for parole.

Remember that California prisoners who are housed out of state for reasons ranging from accommodation for various health/family reasons to their own protection, do not receive a CRA either, prior to their California hearings, as the FAD forensic psychologists are not licensed to practice in states other than California.

Just like the out-of-state inmates, there is NOTHING stopping the inmate from hiring their own private Psychologist to administer different actuarial instruments, used by FAD psychologists to mimic the CRA that are used at a Parole Hearing.