Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) expressed disappointment in the party-line vote that passed Senate Bill 9 (SB 9) on the floor of the California State Assembly last week.
If signed into law, SB 9 would allow inmates, who were juveniles when they committed a special circumstances crime — one that would have resulted in the death penalty sentence for an adult — to instead be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and allows those same inmates to later petition the court for re-sentencing, thus making them eligible for parole.
“I am disappointed in the outcome of this bill,” said Nielsen. “It should have long been left to die. Instead it was brought up for a vote in the Assembly multiple times. These inmates’ sentences are just sentences for the crimes they committed. Victims can forgive, but their pain and loss never go away. The only thing they can have is justice. Through this bill, they’re denying all of us justice.”
In light of recent legislation, AB 109, which has allowed thousands of inmates to be released early or receive more lenient punishment for their crimes, Nielsen said that SB 9 was yet another attempt to make it easier for some violent criminals to leave prison early.
“Along with being an injustice for the victims and their families, this bill undermines the will of the voters who passed Proposition 115 in 1990. That proposition provided for life without parole sentences for juveniles 16 or older who commit first-degree murder with special circumstances,” said Nielsen.
“SB 9 is an unconstitutional amendment of Proposition 115 because it requires a two-thirds vote to be amended. The Governor already has the power to grant commutations to murderers if he feels the facts warrant it,” Nielsen added in a statement.