A federal court judge has found two California laws that resulted from ballot initiatives – including the so-called “Victims’ Bill of Rights” – to be unconstitutional.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of Sacramento said the state’s implementation of the laws improperly changed the punishment for crimes committed before the laws were enacted.
Proposition 9, a ballot initiative passed by the voters in 2008, and Proposition 89, passed by the voters in 1988, “retrospectively increased punishments, in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Karlton declared Friday in a 58-page order.
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Proposition 9, the so-called “Victims’ Bill of Rights” or “Marsy’s Law,” mandated longer periods of time between parole hearings, which Karlton said results in a risk of longer sentences for prisoners than they faced when their crimes were committed.
Proposition 89 granted the governor the right to review and reverse paroles already approved by the Board of Parole Hearings in murder cases. Karlton said every governor since passage of the measure has abused that power by blocking a large majority of the paroles they reviewed.
The judge issued an injunction blocking state enforcement of the two laws.