UNITED STATES—On April 11, the California Senate Public Safety Committee voted on Senate Bill 94, which was authored by Democratic Senator Dave Cortese of Santa Clara. The passage of SB 94 could reduce sentences of California’s most hardened criminals including those convicted of murder, rape, torture, and kidnapping.

According to reports, to qualify, the prisoner must have been sentenced prior to June 5, 1990, and served at least 20 years of prison time.

Senator Dave Cortese

SB 94 was co-authored by Senator Josh Becker (D-CA) of San Mateo, Senator Nancy Skinner (D-CA) of Berkeley, Senator Scott Wiener (D-CA) of San Francisco, Assemblywoman Corrie Jackson (D-CA) of Riverside, and Assemblywoman Akilah Weber (D-CA) of San Diego.

“SB 94 – Judicial Review of Old Sentences: SB 94 would provide a ‘second look’ at Californians sentenced to death or serving life in prison without the possibility of parole by allowing these individuals to petition for judicial review on special circumstance offenses committed before June 5, 1990, after they have served at least 20 years of their sentence. (Contact: Hla El khatib),” as stated on Senator Cortese’s website. 

If the bill passes, it will give California’s worst criminals serving sentences of Life Without Parole, the opportunity to have their sentences invalidated or commuted, and be eligible for parole.

Criminals who qualify will be provided with a public defender to speak on their behalf. The public defender provided by the state would petition the court to reduce, modify, or vacate the criminal’s conviction. The court could impose judgment for a lesser charge.