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Sex Offenders Can Be Released Early In California Following Court Verdict

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Incarcerated, non-violent California sex offenders are eligible to apply for early release following a court verdict on a ballot initiative that two-thirds of voters in the state approved in 2016.

Former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown spearheaded the measure four years ago, but did not intend to allow those convicted of sex crimes from participating in the release program, according to Fox 11. However, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that non-violent sex offenders, including people sentenced for child pornography, incest, indecent exposure and pimping, were eligible to request liberation from corrections facilities, the local outlet reported.

“The initiative’s language provides no indication that the voters intended to allow the (Corrections) Department to create a wholesale exclusion from parole consideration based on an inmate’s sex offense convictions when the inmate was convicted of a nonviolent felony,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote, according to Fox 11.

The court’s ruling allows at least 4,400 non-violent sex offenders to seek early release, the local outlet reported, citing state records. Violent sex criminals like child rapists are still forbidden from utilizing the program, according to Fox 11.

“I hate to say I told you so,” Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said of the court’s decision, according to the local outlet. “This is something we warned the proponents about. They largely dismissed it as posturing.”

Totten added that many of the offenders who can be released under the ballot measure are “very dangerous, exceedingly dangerous,” he told Fox 11.

Parole organizations still have the final say in who is freed in the proposal, but authorities can not exclude “even the mere possibility of parole to an entire category” of convicts, the court ruling said, according to Fox11.

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