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.
Today is day 24 of the prison hunger strike in California. It started off with thousands of prisoners refusing meals, protesting the conditions in the Security Housing Unit, or what’s also been called solitary confinement. The number of strikers has now come down to several hundred, and last week one of them, inmate Billy Sell, died in the SHU at Corcoran State Prison. He had been there for 24 years. The CDCR has issued a statement that his death a suicide, but mediators are calling for an independent investigation to see if he had received proper care during his hunger strike.
Between 2000 and 2009, 57,000 men and women convicted of murder were released from state and federal prison.
By the time convicted murderers are released, they’ve usually served decades behind bars; they’re a generation older than when they went to prison. When they come out, they often fade from view – no sensational headlines, no fanfare. They make their way on the outside in a world that’s can be very different from the one they left.
A conversation with Nancy Mullane, author of Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption. We’ll also speak with Jesse Reed, one of the men she profiles in her book. The California state parole board only approved parole for 10 percent of murder cases last year. Governor Jerry Brown then approved 80% of those. So what does it take to be released? And how should those who have killed re-integrate in society? It’s Your Call with Holly Kernan, and you.