As you may know I have two issues before the State Courts at the moment. A Writ of Mandate on having taken me to the Board of Prison Terms* in 1990 and commended me on my in custody behavior, but said I did not have enough time in for parole or commutation in 1990. I was supposed to return to the Board of Prison Terms in 1993. They never called me back and repealed the law in December 31, 1993. Both the Superior Court and Appellate Court have now denied my petition under Prima Facia* which is absurd. So I will take the issue to California Supreme Court next.
LEGAL STATUS 2
I have filed a Habeas Corpus on Penal Code 1385 which gives the Trial Court the option to strike Special Cicumstances** from a sentence in the interest of justice based on a prisoner's age, in custody behavior and good programming. Well, there was this white guy on the Honor Yard here at Lancaster State Prison who had three Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP)*** sentences! Based on his age, in custody behavior, time in prison and being on this Honor Yard, the court stroke all of his Special Circumstances from the three LWOP's and gave him one 25 to Life**** sentence and in that same breath took him to the Board and released him. He did not even have 25 years in prison. I have 1 LWOP and 38 years in. I have a great in custody behavior record and accomplishments and I'm on the Honor Yard.
The Superior Court denied my Habeas Corpus, but the judge commended me on my productive and great behavior in prison. He said it was out of his jurisdiction to strike the Special Circumstances. The Appellant Court also denied my Habeas Corpus with no explanation. So I am poised to take both issues to California Supreme Court. There is no time bar to 1385 Penal Code.
*A background to the appeal to The Board of Prison Terms:
Prima facie may be used as an adjective meaning "sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved.
It means more or less that Spoon is asking the Court to 'mandate' an agency to restore parole hearings for those prisoners who were sentenced during a time when even LWOP prisoners received parole hearings.
California sentencing laws, at one time included 'all' prisoners going before the board once they had hit the bottom of their matrix (years they must serve before they could be considered for parole). When LWOP was first instituted in California in the '70s, it seems like no one actually believed that it would really mean 'never ever ever getting out' would the person have a chance at release. Instead, California moved to an even more barbaric sentencing structure and began sentencing people to years beyond their natural life, even when they weren't sentenced to LWOP. 100, 200 years or even more.
Basically it is society saying "were mad, we're in charge, and we are going to show you how mad we are" and the Judge going along with it. It could be called revenge sentencing. It serves no purpose if the point of sentencing is to create some balance between societies safety and incentive to rehabilitate.
So Spoon has been denied by the Court, his request for them to review CDCR's (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation) change in policy, and ordering them to restore it - no longer giving parole hearings to the conditions he was actually sentenced under at the time of sentencing. The Court denied it saying it didn't state a prima facie claim, or in other words, on its face, the claim of what he was asking wasn't a cognizable claim or wasn't apparent.
While it was still CDC (California Department of Corrections), they were so backed up in parole hearings for prisoners who actually had a shot at parole, they made an administrative decision to stop doing parole hearings for prisoners who they see as the walking dead. They still got further behind as the level of incarceration in CA boomed larger and larger each year.
Then came Marcy's Law, an initiative which passed by the people and said something like if there is no chance of the person being parole eligible under the Board's determination, they could deny you up to 15 years at a time (prior it was 3 maximum).
All that history is to say that Spoon's case/claim is very interesting because, in the case of Marcy's Law, there was a class action filed on behalf of the prisoners that said exactly what he is saying but on this issue - if we were sentenced to a term that gave us a parole hearing every three years - you can't mid sentence change the terms of our sentence - it is ex post facto which is illegal. They won, and anyone who was sentenced prior to Marcy's Law being passed, once again is under the regular term of hearings at 1, 2, or 3 years maximum.
Background summary by Christine Thomas
** The Special Circumstances in Spoon's case were fabricated by the court only because the District Attorney (who in many jurisdictions in the US, represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses) wanted Spoon on Death Row. The Special Circumstances were attempted rape and attempted burglary. There was no evidence of either one, it was only based on findings of unidentified finger print smudges on a window sill, but without this the court could not have sentenced Spoon to LWOP. He did not comit the special circumstances nor plead guilty of them. But this fact does not give him any chance to appeal the sentence itself, only his behavior and accomplishments in prison.
*** Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) Wikipedia
**** ”25 to life” generally means a life sentence with parole possibilities after 25 years.