A Constitutional Amendment Proposal
Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 2:49PM
Allen Jones

Background:

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE
SECTION 4800-4801
 

4800.  The general authority to grant reprieves, pardons and commutations of sentence is conferred upon the Governor by Section 8 of Article V of the Constitution of the State of California.

4801. (a) The Board of Parole Hearings may report to the Governor, from time to time, the names of any and all persons imprisoned in any state prison who, in its judgment, ought to have a commutation of sentence or be pardoned and set at liberty on account of good conduct, or unusual term of sentence, or any other cause, including evidence of intimate partner battering and its effects. For purposes of this section, "intimate partner battering and its effects" may include evidence of the nature and effects of physical, emotional, or mental abuse upon the beliefs, perceptions, or behavior of victims of domestic violence if it appears the criminal behavior was the result of that victimization.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment:

1. Repeal the authority of the governor’s power to grant clemency and any sentencing commutations in the State of California under penal code section 4800.

2. Adopt a new law for clemency protocol as the State's standard practice known as the California Clemency Boards by its inventor Allen Jones. This new clemency process would supersede all known and unknown laws in the State of California dealing with clemency and sentencing commutations. The California Parole Board shall send all recommendations to the new Sacramento office of California Clemency Boards under penal code section 4801.
Under this new clemency system, a new clemency board shall be created to handle all requests for clemency, commutations and compassionate prisoner releases in State of California. At least one county clemency board shall be established in every county in the State of California to handle considerations for clemency, commutation and compassionate releases due to possible injustice on the part of the State, including prison overcrowding.
Five citizens randomly selected; using voter or jury pool information, whom reside in the county where the inmate was convicted will judge cases from that same county. If the citizens agree to sit on a clemency board for up to one week, they will be compensated for their services. Service is not mandatory, but the sum of $100.00 a day for the week’s service will be paid within 30 days of the end of service.

Board members will also be prescreened before sitting on any panel. Board members will review inmate request for clemency, early release, reduction of sentence. While in session, they may review multiple requests for that week’s session.
Private Citizens, prisoner rights groups and professionals in the field may also petition the board on behalf of an inmate. The citizens of the California Clemency Board will have the power to release any qualified prisoner (once every seven years per individual) reduce his or her sentence. Members of the board can also use their common sense in viewing respected investigative journalism such as “60 Minutes”, “20/20” etc. in granting clemency to an inmate. They may also give a citizen reprimand with a granted release attached to board member’s conditions. Member of the board can choose to take no action if they feel the prisoner was treated in a satisfactory manner by the prison system or judicial process.

An inmate can apply for a one-time appeal if he/she has been denied release, commutation or compassion by his or her county clemency board. However, the appeal will take place in another county; also randomly selected, from any one of the other 57 counties of California.

The California Clemency Board will also have the power to grant clemency for humanitarian reasons. This act includes the granting of a State of California pardon to former felons who have turned into pillars of society, which includes no criminal activity in any state of the United States for a yet to be determined time. Release of nonviolent prisoners under established guidelines when prison overcrowding is at unsafe levels will prevent prison overcrowding permanently shall be determined by review of prisoner Central file “C-file” along with prison input.

Any county who receives a California Clemency Board released prisoner shall also receive from the prison budget the sum of $8,000.00 per release for rehabilitation/reentry services. The county must have State approved rehabilitation services in place to receive these prison budget funds. And the released inmate must register with the county rehabilitation agency within 30 days of release to be eligible for assistance.

3. Create a State elected clemency administrator (2 four year terms) to handle all affairs of this new agency, including that prisoner requests are delivered to the county level in a timely manner and make rulings on fairness or fraud in the clemency board.

The first administrator (Secretary of Clemency) appointed shall by law, the inventor of this new agency at no pay to establish California Clemency Boards. Thereafter, the governor will retain power to appoint any vacancy other than due to expired elected term.

THE CITIZENS OF THE CALIFORNIA CLEMENCY BOARD AND NOT THE ELECTED ADMINISTRATOR WILL HAVE THE FINAL SAY ON CLEMENCY AND COMMUTATIONS. 

Special note:

California Clemency Boards is not a get out of jail free card for those bent on committing crime and has many safe guards to prevent abuse of this new clemency process.

UPDATED: July 18, 2015

Article originally appeared on 21st Century Thinking (http://casegame.squarespace.com/).
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