CDCR Won't Appeal Edwards - 3rd Strikers Should Still File a Writ of Habeas Corpus

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California administration officials have officially confirmed that they will not appeal the landmark Court of Appeals victory from last month, which held that prison regulations denying early parole to nonviolent Three Strikes prisoners violated the California Constitution and Proposition 57 (Read more about the “In re Edwards” case here).

In light of this decision, the administration also announced that it will soon issue new regulations extending an opportunity for early parole to over 4,000 prisoners sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law for nonviolent crimes.

However, we have not yet seen the new regulations and don’t know how the parole board will handle the influx of new Three Strikes cases. Just because Three Strikers will have a chance at parole, that doesn’t mean the board will release everyone, or even most people.

“Should I Wait for the New Regulations?”

Many families of Three Strikers have called us to ask if they should simply wait for the new regulations to kick in in January, or if filing a Writ of Habeas Corpus is still a good idea. Our Case Management Director, Amy Chattopadhyay, explains why waiting is not the best idea:

“The question raised is why someone would file for a writ of habeas corpus now rather than wait for CDCR to implement its new regulations, which should automatically give expedited parole consideration under Prop 57.

There's that word: 'wait'.

Firstly, there is no set timeline for CDCR to actually implement its regulations in compliance with Edwards.

Secondly, once CDCR's regulations are actually implemented, you will have an “adequate remedy” at law and an administrative process to exhaust before seeking it; on its own, this means that you may not be able to, or it will be much more difficult, to sue to enforce your right to parole. 

Thirdly, the regulations will result in an enormous backlog of non-violent third-strike offenders becoming immediately eligible for parole.

On their own, each of these would be bad enough. Together, these factors give CDCR almost unlimited latitude to delay the process, possibly for years. It's very possible that CDCR will use 'increased caseload' and 'administrative difficulties' as justifications to strategically moot cases out by scheduling hearings out as far as is justifiable - in some cases, around the time the inmate would have been eligible for parole anyway. 

The Court of Appeal's order was to have Edwards considered for parole within 60 days. In an unpublished order, Grinker, who raised substantially the same grounds but which had already been found suitable for parole, was to be considered for parole within 5 days and to be released forthwith. How likely is it that CDCR, on its own, would conduct hearings on that basis for the thousands of inmates which would become eligible under the new regulations?

Perhaps the strongest point to make here is that it often takes a court order to get CDCR to follow the regulations which it promulgated willingly! There is no reason to expect them not to continue to delay when it is within their power to do so because it has accomplished its agenda for every single day which a person that might otherwise be considered for early parole consideration continues to be imprisoned. It may just be a wait, but it's a wait that could quickly transform into the entirety of the inmate's sentence.”

So waiting may be a dangerous game, and could potentially delay the release of your loved one by months or even years! Having a court order before the new regulations are set is a far more robust strategy.

Judson Parker1 Comment