Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Board of Parole Hearings Launches Web Page for Crime Victims

Victims Can Now Access Parole Suitability Hearing Transcripts

SACRAMENTO - The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) Board of Parole Hearings has launched a web page that allows crime victims to request transcripts for Parole Suitability Hearings of inmates sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

"Continuing to protect the rights of victims through our criminal justice system is a top priority of my department," said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. "This new web page will make important information more readily available to victims of crime and their families and help to keep them safe."

Within approximately 30 days upon completion of a prisoner's hearing before the Board, a transcript of the hearing will be available upon request. Transcripts may be requested by email at no cost by accessing the web page. Alternatively, a copy of the transcript will be mailed for a fee of $25.00. Previously victims were charged per page, which could be costly for transcripts running hundreds of pages, and an electronic version was not available.

If a transcript requested by e-mail is not available in the database -- for example, transcripts of hearings that took place in the past and are archived - a fee of $25 will be charged for those as well. The requestor will be contacted if the Board does not have an electronic copy of the transcript and request the fee.

Any persons requesting a hearing transcript must be registered and meet the criteria of a victim as identified through the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services. The registration form is available by accessing the new web page.

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 9, the "Victim's Bill of Rights Act of 2008," often called "Marsy's Law," which expands victims' rights in parole proceedings for prisoners sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The law applies to all hearings for the purpose of setting, postponing, or rescinding of life prisoner parole dates. Marsy's Law, Penal Code section 3041.5 (a) (4) permits the victim, next of kin, members of the victim's family, and two representatives designated by the victim to request and receive a stenographic record of all proceedings.

Marsy's Law was named after Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas, a University of California Santa Barbara student, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only a week after Marsy was murdered, her mother walked into a grocery store after visiting her daughter's grave and was confronted by the accused murderer. She did not know that he had been released on bail.

Victims can request transcripts of Parole Suitability Hearings by accessing the new web page at: www.cdcr.ca.gov/Divisions_Boards/BOPH/psh_transcript.html.