BILL ANALYSIS Ó Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair SB 9 (Yee) Hearing Date: 05/23/2011 Amended: As Introduced Consultant: Jolie Onodera Policy Vote: Public Safety 5-2 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: SB 9 would authorize an inmate who was under 18 years of age at the time of committing an offense for which the inmate was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) to submit a petition to the court for recall and resentencing. This bill is retroactive, and staggers the filing dates for eligible inmates to petition the court. This bill establishes certain criteria that must be met in order to hold a hearing, and provides that a new sentence, if any, shall not be greater than the initial sentence. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 Fund Resentencing hearings Up to $52 Up to $64 Up to $90 General* Case-processing/admin Unknown, likely minor General* Petitioner transportation Minor, absorbable General Reduced sentences Unknown, potential cost savings General of up to $25 per inmate per year *Trial Court Trust Fund _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File. This bill authorizes the 293 inmates serving LWOP in California who were juveniles at the time they committed the crime for which they are serving LWOP to petition the court for a recall and resentencing. This bill allows up to three petitions to be filed for inmates who entered custody prior to January 1, 1996. The initial petition may be filed between 2012 and 2015, as specified, with subsequent eligibility to file after 20 and 24 years in custody. Inmates who have served at least ten but less than 15 years as of January 1, 2012, will be eligible to file petitions after 15, 20, and 24 years in custody. Inmates who entered custody after January 1, 2002 (less than ten years in SB 9 (Yee) Page 3 custody as of January 1, 2012), are eligible to submit a petition after 10, 15, 20, and 24 years in custody. Based on data from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, there are 47 eligible inmates statewide who entered custody prior to 1996 whose eligibility to submit a petition will be staggered. There will also be a phase-in of inmates who entered custody after 1996 who will be eligible to submit a petition as they reach 15 years served of their sentence beginning in 2011-12. Further, a phase-in of inmates who reach ten years in custody will be eligible to file a petition beginning in 2011-12. If resentencing is not granted under the initial petition, inmates may file another petition as specified above. This bill staggers petition eligibility, resulting in approximately 26 eligible to file petitions in fiscal year 2011-12, 32 eligible in 2012-13, and 45 eligible in 2013-14 across the state. It cannot be known with certainty how many eligible inmates will file petitions in the fiscal year in which they first become eligible, since the burden is on the inmates to prepare appeal documents and petition the court. In future years, the potential number of eligible petitioners will be greater as inmates reaching 10, 15, 20, and 24 years in custody may be eligible to petition in the same year. This bill does not require the court to hold a hearing for every petition received. If the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the statements in the petition are true, a hearing shall be held to consider whether to recall and resentence the defendant. The increased court workload to handle petitions from ineligible inmates is expected to be minor. For eligible petitioners, local courts anticipate processing these petitions would require two court hearings - one hearing to recall the original sentencing and set a resentencing hearing (approximately one hour of court time), and a second hearing to issue findings and enter a judgment on the resentencing (two hours of court time). According to the Judicial Council, three hours of court time is estimated to cost approximately $2,000 for judge, court staff, and security. The exact cost cannot be determined because it relies on the number of eligible petitions filed and the degree of concentration in a single county. SB 9 (Yee) Page 4 Judicial Council also indicates that this bill would increase courts' workload, contribute to existing backlogs, and exacerbate the need for additional resources. The exact amount and cost of increased workload and backlog exacerbation could not be determined because it depends on the number of petitions filed and hearings held. It is also unclear which specific superior courts would receive the petitions allowed under the provisions of this bill. The court will also incur expenses to notify the victims or victims' family members regarding the resentencing hearing, as they have the right to participate. The court may not have contact information readily available, and this would likely lead to ongoing administrative costs. Staff notes, however that under current law any inmate can submit a petition to the court. This bill simplifies the process for a small group of specified inmates to petition the court, which may result in individuals submitting petitions that might not have otherwise done so. However, there are no restrictions on Habeas Corpus petitions, which are used by inmates to challenge their conviction, sentence, or both. For those who would have submitted Habeas Corpus petitions, this bill would likely offer a less expensive alternative, as it involves only a resentencing hearing, and no potential for a new trial. It cannot be known how many of the 293 inmates serving LWOP for crimes committed as juveniles will file Habeas Corpus petitions, but there is a possibility of General Fund savings if eligible individuals petition under the provisions of this bill in lieu of submitting a Habeas Corpus petition. Staff notes that although the California 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, In re Nunez (April 30, 2009, G040377), overturned the sentence of one of these inmates on 8th amendment grounds of cruel and unusual punishment, this decision has not resulted in a large increase in Habeas Corpus petitions filed to date. There is also a potential for future cost savings if any petitioner receives a reduced sentence. If a juvenile were sentenced to LWOP at age 16, he would likely live in prison for more than 50 years, at a marginal cost of $25,000 annually. If one such sentence were reduced to 25 years, there would be an average cost savings of $625,000 over 25 years. Those cost SB 9 (Yee) Page 5 savings would be offset to some degree by any parole supervision costs assessed as a condition of the reduced sentence. Prior Legislation. SB 399 (Yee) 2009 was substantially similar to this bill, but failed on the Assembly Floor.