Los Angeles, CA – California Governor Jerry Brown recently commuted the sentences of 20 murderers who were supposed to remain in prison for life.
Brown’s move gave nearly two dozen convicted killers the opportunity to be considered for parole, The Washington Post reported.
He had already commuted the life sentences of another 62 criminals since 2011, and still has four months left in office.
In addition to the staggering number of commutations, Brown has also doled out over 1,100 pardons to criminals convicted of forgery, drunk driving, and drug sales offenses.
By comparison, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger granted just 15 pardons during his time in office, while former Governor Gray Davis issued none.
“2018 is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Crime Survivors Resource Center founder Patricia Wenskunas, told The Washington Post. “The sad reality is, California is not a victim-friendly state. It’s an offender-friendly state.”
In August, Brown pardoned three former prisoners who were facing deportation to Cambodia, including one man convicted of murder.
In addition to the commutations and pardons, Brown also has the final word on parole board decisions, and has approved parole for over 2,300 murderers who were serving life sentences during his time in office, The Washington Post reported.
Nazgol Ghandnoosh, a research analyst for the criminal justice advocacy group, the Sentencing Project, hailed Brown’s sweeping pardons and commutations.
“It really stands out [in a good way,]” she told The Washington Post. “As a country, we need to move away from life without parole as a sentence altogether.”
Despite the criminal justice and judiciary layers that resulted in the life sentences being imposed, Brown took it upon himself to singlehandedly alter their intended course.
“There has been an overshoot in the time many people expect [criminals] to be locked up in a cage or cell,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “I think there’s wisdom in having the possibility of hope [of being released].”
Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys President Michele Hanisee strongly disagreed, and argued that Brown’s latest commutations were “motivated by [his] personal philosophy of deincarceration.”
“It is another action by Gov. Brown in a long line of policy that makes California less safe,” Orange County Assemblyman Matthew Harper said.
Victims’ rights advocates also blasted the governor’s leniency, calling the commutations an injustice.
“Governor Brown, can you commute my daughter and bring her back?” said Jennifer Lundy, whose three-year-old child was murdered by a man living with her family in 1993. “What have you done to restore my life?”