SACRAMENTO (August 16, 2012) - Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) announced that, in spite of expressing strong opposition to Senate Bill 9, it passed the Assembly Floor on a minimum party-line vote. SB 9 would allow inmates, who were juveniles when they committed a special circumstances crime that would have resulted in the death penalty sentence for an adult; instead they were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, to petition the court for resentencing, making them eligible for parole.
"I am disappointed in the outcome of this bill," said Nielsen. "It should have long been left to die; instead it was brought up for a vote in the Assembly multiple times. These inmates' sentences are just sentences for the crimes they committed. Victims can forgive but their pain and loss never go away, and the only thing they can have is justice. Through this bill, they're denying all of us justice."
In light of recent legislation, AB 109, which has allowed thousands of inmates to be released early or receive more lenient punishment for their crimes, Nielsen said that SB 9 was yet another attempt to make it easier for some violent criminals to leave prison early.
"Along with being an injustice for the victims and their families, this bill undermines the will of the voters who passed Proposition 115 in 1990, that provided for the life without parole sentence for juveniles 16 or older who commit first-degree murder with special circumstances," said Nielsen. "SB 9 is an unconstitutional amendment of Proposition 115 because it requires a two-thirds vote to be amended. The Governor already has the power to grant commutations to murderers if he feels the facts warrant it."