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California: New Postsentence Rehabilitation Credits Inapplicable to Sentences of Convicted Murderers

The California Court of Appeal held on June 22, 2010 that a new state statute, which authorizes postsentence credit against a determinate term of imprisonment for successful completion of approved rehabilitative programs, does not apply to an indeterminately sentenced convicted murderer whose sentence also includes a consecutive determinate component.

Prisoner Manuel Jose Maes, Jr. was convicted of second-degree murder in 2004 and subsequently sentenced to an indeterminate term of 15 years to life, plus one year for use of a deadly weapon and four years for a probation violation, with the latter determinate terms to be served first, consecutive to the indeterminate term.

Effective January 25, 2010, Penal Code § 2933.05 authorized sentence-reducing credits for a prisoner’s successful completion of approved rehabilitative programs. Effective on the same date, however, Penal Code § 2933.2 barred accrual of credits under § 2933.05 for prisoners convicted of murder.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation determined that Maes, as a convicted murderer, was ineligible to receive postsentence credit under § 2933.05. Maes, however, contended that he was entitled to earn such credits against the determinate portions of his sentence.

Construing the statutory language, the Court of Appeal concluded that § 2933.2 bars accrual of postsentence conduct credits under § 2933.05 “on all determinate terms a murderer serves on a single period of custody either before or concurrent with the service of his or her indeterminate life term for murder.” See: In re Maes, 185 Cal.App.4th 1094, 110 Cal.Rptr.3d 900 (Cal.App. 3 Dist. 2010), review denied.

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Related legal case

In re Maes