Sharif Jacob greets Roy Butler on the day he is released.
“We are thrilled that Roy Butler is finally free. Despite having recommended that Roy serve no prison time at all, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation imprisoned Roy for 25 years. Roy was repeatedly denied parole for arbitrary reasons, the last time under the pretext that he was not “articulate” and did not have a job offer. Roy was released after the Court of Appeal ruled that his continued imprisonment violated due process. Roy served 13 years beyond his base term—the proportional sentence for his crime—based on Board decision-making that the Court condemned as ‘baffling’ and ‘inexplicable.’
Roy’s case has already changed California’s parole system for the better. To settle his suit, the State agreed to reform its parole system. Before settling, the Board refused to inform inmates of their base term until they were granted parole—often years after they had already finished serving their base terms. Under the settlement, the Board must provide every inmate with his base term at his first parole hearing.
But California’s parole system still has a long way to go. We will continue to work towards the day when California makes parole decisions based on objective evidence about the commitment offense and prison conduct, rather than subterfuge for economic status and race.” – Sharif Jacob