FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 31st, 2018
Deirdre Wilson, CCWP, 415-255-7036 x 4
Amber-Rose Howard, CURB, 909-717-8520
The California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP) and the Californians United for a Responsible Budget Coalition (CURB) applaud Governor Brown for commuting the sentences of 14 people and pardoning 56 to mark the Easter holiday, among them 7 were serving Life Without Parole (LWOP). These commutations follow the 19 commutations and 132 pardons granted by the Governor at Christmas. These commutations follow the 37 commutations the Governor has granted during his term, 17 for people serving LWOP.
“These unprecedented commutations indicate that the Governor recognizes that people have the capacity to change, grow and be rehabilitated, which an LWOP sentence denies.” noted Adrienne Roberts of CCWP. “We are hopeful that over the course of his last year in office, Brown will continue to grant pardons and commutations, especially to the thousands of people serving LWOP sentences. Such a bold stance could serve as a model for commutation and sentencing reform throughout the country.”
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, over 5,000 people in California are serving LWOP. Roberts continues “Life Without Parole sentencing is increasingly being challenged and limited across the United States. We believe that all people in California serving the inhumane LWOP sentence should be commuted to parole-eligible, allowing people a chance to go before the Parole Board. UItimately, LWOP, a living death sentence, needs to be eliminated from the penal code.”
Ivette Alé of CURB points out that, “Black and Brown people are disproportionately sentenced to LWOP, revealing prosecutorial bias and racial discrimination. Of the nearly 200 people serving LWOP in California’s women’s prisons, the overwhelming majority are survivors of abuse, including intimate partner battering, childhood abuse, sexual violence and sex trafficking. Hearing the news of the Easter commutations offers a sense of hope in the direction of dropping LWOP sentences for good.” Today’s commutations included 3 people in women’s prisons, 2 serving LWOP.
A group of people with LWOP sentences at the Central California Women’s Facility reacted with excitement at news of the Easter commutations. “We are extremely humbled by Governor Brown’s act of grace. We have believed and persevered through despair and now we feel that a miracle of hope is transforming our lives.”
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