Gov. Jerry Brown continued last year to use his power to block decisions of the state parole board relatively sparingly, letting about 80 percent of convicted killers' parole releases stand.
Brown reversed 91 of 470 parole grants in 2012 and returned two cases to the state Board of Parole Hearings for reconsideration, according to a report to the Legislature released Friday.
Brown's record in 2012 is similar to the first year of his term, when he let stand roughly 82 percent of parole board decisions.
Brown, a Democrat, is far more deferential to the state parole board than either of California's previous two governors. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, allowed about 27 percent of paroled killers to be released from prison.
Schwarzenegger's Democratic predecessor, Gray Davis, allowed only about 2 percent of paroled killers to be released.
The governor has the power to affirm, modify or reverse the parole board's decisions in such cases, but a reversal requires evidence that an inmate remains dangerous.
"Governors must follow the law," said Evan Westrup, a Brown spokesman. "Governors who have routinely ignored the law have had their decisions overturned in court."
In 2011, Westrup said, California courts reconsidered 144 parole reversals by Schwarzenegger, overturning 106.
Among the decisions Brown reversed was a parole grant for Nettie Reay, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1993 killing of a woman found in a field near Sacramento International Airport.
In a written decision, Brown acknowledged Reay had "made some efforts to improve herself while incarcerated," including earning a high school diploma and completing four vocational programs.
However, Brown said, Reay's crime "was brutal and inexplicable." The victim, Angel Dixon, was "handcuffed and gagged, dragged to a remote field, and stabbed over fifty times and left to die alone," Brown wrote. He said her actions "evidenced a cruel and callous disregard for human suffering."
In another local case, Brown reversed a parole grant for Jeffry Cook, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1979 killing of a narcotics officer in an undercover drug operation in Sacramento.
"Until Mr. Cook can demonstrate that he understands why he was capable of such a cold and calculated decision," Brown wrote, "I find that he remains a threat to participate in further acts of violence if released from prison."
Brown is currently weighing whether to allow the parole of a former Charles Manson follower, Bruce Davis. Brown has until early March to make a decision, after the parole board found Davis suitable for parole.