California lawmakers have advanced legislation that would allow killers serving life sentences without parole to request a re-sentencing.
California Senate Bill 94 now heads to the floor for a full vote by the California Assembly. It would open the possibility of judicial review to reduce sentences for some felons accused of serious crimes, including murder, if the offense occurred before June 5, 1990, and they've completed at least 25 years of their sentence.
Those who were convicted of first-degree murder of a police officer would not qualify, while those who do qualify would now have the opportunity to appear before a parole board, which could deny their release.
California state Sen. Dave Cortese (D) introduced the bill, saying on social media that he was "thrilled that these key bills of mine passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee."
Republicans are appalled
"I’d like to say I am shocked Senate Bill 94 passed out of the Democrat-controlled Assembly Appropriations Committee, but I’m not," said Jessica Millan Patterson, chair of the California Republican Party, said in a statement reported by Fox News. "California Democrats continue to send a crystal-clear message to all Californians: they would rather protect violent murderers than focus their efforts on true public safety and protecting victims."
GOP assemblyman Bill Essayli, a former federal prosecutor, said that people sentenced for heinous crimes should serve their full prison term, even if that's life without the possibility of parole.
"Killing two individuals with aggravating circumstances isn't enough to justify a LWOP sentence? Being an accomplice to a mass murderer isn't?," he asked. "Killing a peace officer is sufficiently heinous, but killing a firefighter or other public official isn't? These exclusions are purely political."
"LWOP sentences are promises to the victim's families that they need never fear the person will be let out of prison," Essayli added. "This will permit a large percentage of LWOP offenders to be re-sentenced to standard first-degree murder and eligible for parole immediately."