Is Parole Required For a Person Sentenced Under Realignment in California

California recently changed its entire criminal law to allow for the the sentencing of a felon to go to County Jail instead of state prison, the new law is called realignment.  But the question has been raised, does the felon have to endure parole upon release from jail on a felony conviction.  The answer is no.  There is no formal state parole period following a defendant’s release from a commitment under realignment. So, the procedure would go something like this:  The defendant is sentenced to , say, 3 years in jail by the Torrance Court.  Upon release he is simple unsupervised and can go about his dail life.  It seems the law governing the requirement of parole, only require parole if a defendant has been committed to state prison. These sections were not changed to include commitments under realignment; the omission seems to be intentional. Nothing in the realignment legislation, however, appears to restrict the application of county parole under applicable criminal laws. County parole boards are charged with creating rules and procedures for the release on parole of “any prisoner who is confined in or committed to any county jail, work furlough facility, industrial farm, or industrial road camp, or in any city jail, work furlough facility, industrial farm or industrial road camp under a judgment of imprisonment or as a condition of probation for any criminal offense . . . .” According to one Torrance Criminal  Lawyer, the California parole board is authorized to “release any prisoner on parole for a term not to exceed two years upon those conditions and under those rules and regulations as may seem fit and proper for his or her rehabilitation, and should the prisoner so paroled violate any of the conditions ofhis or her parole or any of the rules and regulations governing his or her parole, he or she shall, upon order of the parole commission, be returned to the jail from which he or she was paroled and be confined therein for the unserved portion of his or her sentence.”  The law further provides that for the purpose of computing the unserved portion of the defendants sentence, “no credit shall be granted for the time between his or her release from jail on parole and his or her return to jail because of the revocation of his or her parole.”  The use of county parole depends on an application from the inmate. Because of the potential two-year parole “tail,” it is unlikely an inmate will request parole status if the term imposed by the court is relatively short. Inmates committed to jail for longer terms, however, may find county parole a better alternative to custody.

Although there appears to be no conflict in the statutory provisions governing commitments under current law and county parole, it is not clear whether the process is available when the court has imposed a structured mandatory supervision program under current laws governing criminal conduct. The legal question remains whether county parole boards can or should override the court’s well-structured plans.  We will have to wait and see how the state deals with this question.

About thetorranceattorney

Matthew Ruff is a Torrance criminal defense attorney located near the 405 freeway on Crenshaw Blvd. Focusing on DUI and serious criminal cases for over twenty five years. In addition to criminal cases, Matthew also defends clients at the DMV regarding license suspension hearings stemming from drunk driving arrests.
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