Some elderly prison inmates would become eligible for parole sooner under a proposed November 2018 ballot measure cleared to begin gathering signatures Thursday.
The measure, sponsored by Pasadena attorney Charles W. Funaro II, would create the Elderly Parole Program. California prison inmates who are 80 or older, have served at least 10 years behind bars, have not been sentenced to death or life without possibility of parole, and who are not covered by parole prohibitions imposed by other ballot measures, would be eligible for parole.
California’s existing elderly parole process followed a federal court’s 2014 order requiring the state to reduce its prison population. Inmates 60 or older, who have served at least 25 years of their sentences, are eligible. During the 2015-16 fiscal year, the state held 658 elderly parole hearings and granted parole to 154 inmates.
That process, though, is not in state law. If the federal court order expires, the existing elderly parole program would end.
A review of Funaro’s proposal by the Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the measure, compared to the current program, would lead to parole hearings for less than 100 additional inmates. That would generate savings “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually,” the report concluded.
Backers have until late January to gather 365,880 valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot.