Board reduces “backlog” of Lifer parole cases from 3,200 to 25in 7 years
Sacramento – A long-standing legal case alleging that the California Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) failed to hold timely parole hearings was dismissed this week by a Marin County Superior Court Judge who described BPH progress of reducing its backlog of cases as “extremely impressive.”
The court’s action followed BPH’s overhaul of the state’s system for tracking and scheduling parole hearings, reducing its backlog of cases from 3,200 to just 25.
“The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Board of Parole Hearings has undertaken extraordinary efforts over the past seven years to dramatically improve its systems and procedures for life parole eligibility hearings,” said Jennifer Shaffer, BPH’s executive officer . “The court’s decision to terminate this lawsuit means the Board has substantially complied with the court’s orders to improve the timeliness of these hearings. I am proud of the hard work by CDCR and BPH staff that made these critical reforms possible.”
Petitioner Jerry Rutherford filed his petition for a writ of habeas corpus on May 26, 2004, alleging the BPH had violated the petitioners’ due process rights by failing to conduct lifer parole hearings in a timely manner.
A year ago, August 20, 2010, the court denied, without prejudice, BPH's motion to terminate the Rutherford class action, and it set the next status hearing for July 15, 2011. The court indicated that before it dismissed this case, it wanted to see a sustained reduction of the backlog over a longer period of time.
In the order to dismiss the case, Judge Verna Adams wrote: “During the intervening seven plus years, a great deal of work has been done. The backlog, as of May 2011, has been reduced to 25 – an impressive accomplishment.”