by Barbetta Ralphs, Atty.
As an attorney, I concur with the person who believed the Board was "maxing out" the majority of persons to whom they have allowed .100 hearings, or, at the very least, given them extra time which is far beyond discretion, in my opinion. If the prison population falls dramatically, so will the necessity for high paid employees of the Dept. of Corrections and other affected agencies. Since nothing can be done to extend time for SRA inmates, it stands to reason that the only alternative of the Board, to justify its existence, and of the Dept. of Corrections, to continue to obtain funding for its high-priced upper echelon, is to give more time to the only inmates at their disposal, the pre-SRA group.
It is true that PRP's are not a "speedy form of relief;" the Court of Appeals, or the Supreme Court, can delay their decision until it becomes moot and meaningless. Counsel is not appointed at the Court of Appeals level, whether or not such should be done, so that attorneys who hope for some menial reimbursement end up "pro bono" which few sole proprietors can afford. Counsel is appointed at the Supreme Court level only on rare occasions.
However, if more prisoners would file a PRP when given more time at a .100 hearing, and it appears that there are many incarcerated who are able to show "abuse of discretion" on the part of the Board, and any other applicable legal basis, and then if those inmates would follow through, when denied, and take their case to the Supreme Court, and then follow through, if denied, and file in Federal Court, which cannot be done until all state remedies are exhausted, it might help to change the system. At the very most, it can't hurt. It is, in my opinion, the Federal Court system which must eventually be utilized if there is to be any help whatsoever concerning the abuse of the .100 hearings.
I also strongly advise every inmate who can borrow the funds, or who may have relatives willing to help him, to obtain a good attorney who is for him to represent him.
If there is no "rapport' with one attorney, it would be better to lose the money for the initial visit than to continue to allow this person to represent one. No attorney can guarantee success, but the present attorney should at least "guarantee" that the attorney will do his or her best, with a fresh viewpoint based on other experiences in the criminal system and at .100 hearings. A .100 hearing is a risk, any way that one looks at it, but as I tell my clients, I do not see this as all bad - it is a chance at release, and it gives one a chance to take legal action to appeal denial and the adding of excessive time, or, worse yet, "maxing out." I might also add that failure to appeal a denial may result in the next .100 hearing Board members adding still more time, to the "maxed out" point.
There is also one other strong factor which mitigates against release, and this in the nature of what one inmate does to another, namely: many of the persons who are or have been released do not believe they need to follow the "rules" set forth for them while on parole. It just can't be that important to report regularly, to call in, to resist drinking in a public place, carrying firearms, etc., but, worse yet, they can be released prior to the maximum date. We have all seen the results of tragic crimes committed upon release, but I have found very few inmates who actually believed their best interests, and that of their friends or acquaintances in prison, can be harmed by their actions outside of prison. If there were more "successes" upon release, the Board would have less justification for its actions."
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