A bill that would allow killers serving a life sentence without parole to possibly be re-sentenced cleared a major hurdle Friday in California’s Democratic-led state Legislature.
The state Assembly Appropriations Committee advanced Senate Bill 94, which now moves to the next phase of voting. The bill would allow California prison inmates serving a sentence of life without parole (LWOP) for certain crimes to petition for re-sentencing if the offense occurred before June 5, 1990, and the completion of at least 25 years of their sentence.
Those convicted of first-degree murder of a police officer would be exempt. Those who are re-sentenced would have the opportunity to someday go in front of a parole board, which could deny them release.
In a social media post, state Sen. Dave Cortese, a Democrat who introduced the bill, simply said he was “thrilled that these key bills of mine passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee.”
Fox News Digital has reached out to Cortese’s office.
“I’d like to say I am shocked Senate Bill 94 passed out of the Democrat-controlled Assembly Appropriations Committee, but I’m not,”Jessica Millan Patterson, chair of the California Republican Party, said in a statement. “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.”
Assemblyman Bill Essayli, a Republican and former federal prosecutor, said those 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,” he added. “This will permit a large percentage of LWOP offenders to be re-sentenced to standard first-degree murder and eligible for parole immediately.”
Essayli noted that many juries and victim families agree to LWOP because of assurances that the person convicted would never be released.
“Now here we are trying to let them out,” he said.
SB 94 sailed through the Democratic majority state Senate before moving to the Assembly in May.