The Senate is poised to vote on a crime measure Thursday that
would address, but not solve problems with the current mandatory
minimum and school zone laws. The bill also includes a so-called
"three strikes and you are out" provision for violent felons on
their third conviction.
The bill eliminates parole eligibility for habitual offenders
convicted on their third offense. The list of triggering offenses
contains over 60 offenses.
Bill No. 2054 as drafted reduces, but does not eliminate
mandatory minimum sentencing laws for some drug offenses. Those
drug offenders who are sentenced after enactment would be denied
parole eligibility, access to work release or earned good time. The
reduced sentences would not apply to those currently serving
mandatory minimums. The MBA has been a long time opponent of
mandatory minimum sentences. The MBA's 2009 Drug Policy Task Force report
documents not only the unsustainable increases in prison and jail
populations, in large part driven by the mandatory drug sentencing
statutes, but also the need for comprehensive education, treatment,
rehabilitation and parole eligibility reforms.
The bill before the Senate reduces the school zone from 1,000 feet
to 500 feet, but still carries mandatory minimum penalties. The MBA
supports the redrawing of the school zones to 100 feet. School
zones disproportionately affect those in urban communities and have
had no effects on prevention.
Senate Bill No. 2054 also modifies existing parole procedures.
Parole for those serving life sentences would have to be approved
by 2/3 thirds of the Parole Board rather than a majority. It would
also require the Parole Board to include a risk and need assessment
when considering parole eligibility. The Parole Board would be
required to post parole decisions online and include a tally of the
votes of the board.
If enacted, Senate Bill No.2054 would require post release
supervision for those serving in state prisons for felonies
convicted after the effective date of the bill.
To see the past MBA correspondence on parole, click