A series of bills have been signed into California law aimed at reducing the state’s prison population. While many activists are favor of criminal justice reform, the families of victims are not the biggest fans, naturally. There are concerns that victims’ families are not getting a fair deal when it comes to reforms that could mean reduced sentences and early parole for those who hurt or killed their loved one.
Before a convict is paroled in the state of California, a hearing takes place. At such time, victims and their family members have a legal right to share their thoughts in court about releasing someone who was the source of great pain. The right to do so is afforded by Marsy’s Law, or the California Victim’s Bill of Rights Act of 2008; whenever a parole hearing is to take place, the parole board must notify victims and their families, it is their legal right.
A recent development in a case going back to the 1980’s has led to a lawsuit from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, The O.C. Register reports. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas accuses the parole board of failing to notify the family of Scott Campbell, the son of former San Juan Capistrano mayor Collene Campbell, that their loved one’s killer’s hearing had been moved up a year.
Parole Hearing Improperly Advanced
A violation of Marsy’s Law is what Tony Rackauckas accuses the parole board of, by failing to warn Campbell of the new parole hearing date for convicted murderer Lawrence Cowell, according to the report. Cowell was found guilty of coaxing Scott Campbell onto a Cessna plane on April 17, 1982, to fly to N. Dakota; once in the air, Cowell’s accomplice, Donald Demascio, broke Scott’s neck and tossed him out of the plane. Demascio died in prison while serving life, Cowell is serving 25 years to life, and his next parole hearing was scheduled for 2019.
Cowell’s hearing was moved up a year without any explanation from the parole board, and the family didn’t get a warning, the article reports. Again, no reason was given for advancing the hearing by a year, but Rackauckas suspects it has something to do with lowering prison populations.
“Over the last few years we have been going through a time in this state of the wholesale release of prisoners,” Rackauckas said. “Laws have been made to reduce the number of people in prison… I see this as part of that. It is a continuation of this movement to get people out of prison.”
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Brower can give you the best chance of finding a favorable outcome.