Brown continues pattern of affirming majority of murder parole cases

Gov. Jerry Brown continues to set himself apart from past governors when it comes to giving criminals a second chance, telling the Legislature on Friday he approved the majority of 2012 parole grants for convicted killers.

The governor’s report identifies 91 cases in which Brown reversed a parole grant for an imprisoned killer now serving a life sentence, citing reasons those felons continue to pose a public safety threat. Two other cases were sent back to the Board of Parole Hearings for review.


That means the governor allowed 377 parole recommendations for convicted killers to stand as is or with modified release dates, an 81% approval rate that comes close to matching his 83% approval rate in 2011, and is in stark contrast to the prior governors, who allowed few of those parole recommendations to stand. 

Brown’s press office said those numbers alone are misleading, pointing out that though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected most parole grants for convicted murderers, three out of four times, his rejections were often overturned in court.


Spokesman Evan Westrup pointed out that California Superior and appellate courts in 2011 reconsidered 144 reversals by Schwarzenegger, and overall have overturned 106 of those reversals.

Gubernatorial parole rates may vary, Westrup said, “but the results have been the same: When an individual is no longer a threat to public safety, they have been paroled.”

Brown also pardoned 128 people in 2012, most of them individuals who had committed minor drug-related offenses a decade or more ago.

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