Monday, July 3, 2023

Senate Bill 81 would be a game changer for all Parole Candidates that get Denied AFTER reaching their Minimum Eligible Parole Date (MEPD)


Amended  IN  Assembly  June 21, 2023

Amended  IN  Senate  May 23, 2023

Amended  IN  Senate  March 22, 2023


                                                Senate Bill  No. 81

Introduced by Senators Skinner and Becker

January 12, 2023

An act to amend Section 3041 of, and to add Section 3041.8 to, the Penal Code, relating to parole.


Senate Bill 81 (SB 81) is a bill that was introduced in the California State Senate in 2023. The bill would add Section 3041.8 to the Penal Code, relating to parole. Note that this Bill will not be retroactive. Please note that our July summary may still be Amended beyond the posting of our BLOG. As of July 3rd, 2023, below is what SB81 looks like.

If your loved one has gone to the Board and has been denied at least once, then most likely by the next hearing; the Minimum Eligible Parole Date will have been exceeded. It may be a good idea to postpone their 2023 parole hearing until 2024. Make sure to review this with an attorney, before postponing the next hearing. This can be case specific depending on the circumstance of the case. If the Law Office of Diane T. Letarte is retained, we take into account this strategy based on the specific factors of our client's case. 

SB 81 is currently in the California State Assembly. If it is passed by the Assembly and signed by the Governor, it would go into effect on January 1, 2024. 

Here are some of the key provisions of SB 81: 

* Specifically, SB 81 would require the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) to notify a parole candidate who has been denied parole that they have a right to petition for habeas relief from a court.

* A parole candidate may have the petition heard in either the county of conviction or in the county in which the parole candidate is incarcerated. To be allowed to pick the jurisdiction to file the Writ (WHC) can be very helpful to avoid some very conservative counties!

* SB 81 would also establish that a parole candidate who has reached their minimum eligible parole date has made a fundamental vested interest in being released on parole. This includes any ONE of the minimum parole dates such as MEPD, YPED, and EPED for youth offenders and elderly parole hearings. This means a parole candidate has made a prima facie case for relief and the reviewing court may not summarily deny a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to this section.

* SB 81 would require a court reviewing a petition for habeas relief based on a parole denial to uphold the decision to deny parole only if the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the person presents a current, unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. 

* The Bill would require the court to, upon request, appoint FREE counsel to a parole candidate who has reached their minimum eligible parole date, who petitions the court for habeas relief after being denied parole. 

* The Court may order whatever relief as the case may require, including an Order for a new parole hearing, with or without limitations on what evidence the Board of Parole Hearings may consider.