Kent Williams Granted Parole After Successful AB2942 Petition

Kent Williams of San Diego has been granted early parole under AB 2942, a new state law which allows incarcerated persons to petition for and prosecutors to review old cases for which the prison terms were unjustly harsh. If warranted, they can recommend a new reduced sentence to the sentencing court. This two-step process resulted in the release of Williams after being incarcerated for nearly two decades. Kent’s wife, Fay Steward-Williams, is also a Unite the People volunteer.

Under California’s previous Three Strikes law, which has since been changed by voters, Williams received a 50-year-to-life sentence in 2003 for residential burglaries and car theft—akin to a murder sentence for nonviolent property offenses. He would not have been eligible to petition for parole until 2052.

After AB 2942 took effect January 1, 2019, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan agreed to review the Williams case, which led to his release in June. Prior to AB 2942, only the Board of Parole Hearings and the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) could initiate and resentence a defendant.

What Does California AB 2942 Do?

California AB 2942 revised California Penal Code (PC) Section 1170(d)(1). Under the revised law, DAs now have the right to reevaluate past sentences. If the DA determines that the length of the sentence no longer serves the interests of justice, then they may request resentencing for that inmate. A DA in the county in which the inmate was sentenced may bring the request to the county court.

If the court agrees to resentence the defendant, it will hold a resentencing hearing. It may provide a new sentence, as long as that term is shorter than the initial sentence.

What the Court Considers For a Recall

When determining whether to recall a defendant’s sentence, the court can consider a wide range of factors, including an inmate’s behavior following conviction. Some of the factors the court may consider include:

  • An inmate’s record of rehabilitation while incarcerated

  • Whether there is evidence that the inmate’s risk of recidivism has been reduced

  • Evidence that circumstances have changed since the inmate was originally sentenced, such that continued incarceration does not serve justice

There are No Exclusions in AB 2942

A prosecuting agency can recommend a recall of sentence involving any type of offense, any type of sentence, and there are no requirements of time served.

What Will Happen During the Hearing?

If the court decides to hear your case and recall your sentence, the court will then hold a sentencing hearing as if you had not previously been sentenced. The court can then use all of its judicial powers available at the time of the resentencing hearing, including new authority to strike enhancements under recent reforms.

Contact Our Attorneys Regarding California AB 2942

If you or a loved one have served a significant portion of a long prison sentence and believe you deserve to have that sentenced recalled and reduced, do not hesitate to contact us. Based on the newly revised Section 1170(d)(1), now is the time to determine whether you may be eligible for a reduced sentence.

Judson Parker