Since Jerry Brown became governor, a record number of inmates, including “lifers,” those sentenced to life behind bars, have been released from California prison. Lifers receive one of two kinds of life sentences: with or without the possibility of parole. Those sentenced with the possibility of parole are expected to use the decades spent in prison to reform themselves. They then have to go before a parole board to prove that they’re rehabilitated.
But since 1988, California’s governors have had the option to veto a parole board decision, and they’ve done so in the majority of cases, until recently.