Marsy’s Law Applies to Lifers – Thank you Steve Ipsen

Co-author of Marsy's Law changes the California parole process.

Steve Ipsen co-author of Marsy’s Law changes the California parole process.

When I asked Steve Ipsen about this article and what it all meant.  He said, “Marcella Leach had a heart attack during a parole hearing for the possible release of her daughter’s brutal murder.  She had been to the hearings repeatedly for his release and he little chance of being paroled.  Enough was enough.  The system was broken, expensive and a I wanted to fix it.”  By having presumptive 15 year denials, the process is designed to be fair to victims, reduce the expense to the state, and be fair to the murderer who, in many cases, has little chance of being paroled.

Marsy’s Law Applies to Lifers – California District Attorney’s Association Blogs

Marsy’s law has reshaped victim’s rights in California. Since its inception in 2008, it has expanded victims’ rights in parole proceedings for prisoners sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole by guaranteeing victims the right to be notified of parole hearings and to present information to the Board of Parole Hearings. It also amended Penal Code section 3041.5 to increase the time period between parole hearings, while still allowing for earlier hearings if a change in circumstances or new information subsequently established that there is a reasonable probability a prisoner is suitable for parole.

On March 4, 2013, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in In re Vicks that the changes made to the parole hearing schedule under Marsy’s Law apply to all inmates already serving life sentences—not just those sentenced after the law went into effect. This ruling overturned the decisions of two lower courts, which agreed with Vicks. Despite speculation that increasing the time between parole hearings would result in a longer sentence, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye, writing for the court, asserted in Vicks that, “[a]lthough multiple changes to the parole scheme contributed to longer periods between hearings, the changes have no cumulative effect that would create a significant risk of prolonged incarceration.”

Before Marsy’s Law, the maximum length between parole hearings was five years for murder and two years for all other convictions. Regardless of the changes to the Penal Code, inmates are still allowed to petition for earlier parole dates and the eligibility requirements for parole remain the same. However, parole board commissioners now have the option to defer parole from anywhere from three to 15 years.

The decision to include lifers sentenced before Marsy’s Law took effect, has two potential benefits worth noting. First, increasing the duration of time between parole hearings that often result in a denial, will likely reduce costs to the state, which has already been struggling to maintain a balanced budget.  But more importantly, the affirmation to uniformly apply Marsy’s Law to lifers and impose minimum lengths of up to 15 years between hearings could spare victims the trauma associated with confronting their attackers in more frequent parole hearings, holding true to the original intent of Marsy’s Law.



Steve Ipsen, Deputy District Attorney saves the state of Calfornia millons: Manson acolyte ‘Tex’ Watson denied parole

Tex Watson denied parole for five more years thanks to Steve Ipsen, co-author of Marsy's Law

Tex Watson denied parole for five more years thanks to Steve Ipsen, co-author of Marsy's Law

CNN Justice reports on the five year parole denial of “Tex” Watson.  He has been up for parole 16 times and denied parole 13 times.  Each time he goes before the parole board the families of the murder victims have to re-live the horrific murders of their loved ones.  Equally unfair, Tex Watson has gone before the parole board 13 times, falsely hoping for his freedom.  Steve Ipsen, Deputy District Attorney, co-author of Marsy’s Law, and candidate for Los Angeles District Attorney in 2012 changed the Calfornia Constitution with Proposition 9, “Marsy’s Law” in 2008.  With this provision, the parole board now has the option to deny parole for up to 15 years for those who qualify.  This change was designed to be fair to victims and criminals who have little to no chance of parole. 

When Marcella Leach, one of the co-founders of Justice for Homicide Victims and the mother of “Marsy”, told Steve Ipsen she suffered a heart attack, due to the stress, while attending one of the parole hearings for the murder of her daughter, Mr. Ipsen was determined to change the way victims were treated in the state of California.  He designed and authored the provision to allow the parole board denial options that are fair to victims and the criminal offender.  

In the first year after Marsy’s Law was passed by California voters on Nov. 4, 2008, the new Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights had significantly improved victims’ rights in the state.  In that year, 81 criminals received a maximum 15-year parole denial and an additional 393 convicted felons were denied parole for seven to 10 years, according to the Crime Victims Action Alliance web site.  In 2010 –  357, 196 and 79 criminals received 7, 10 and 15 year denials respectively.  Prior to Marsy’s Law, parole hearings were denied for a maximum of five years, with most ranging between one and three years.

Today Tex Watson was denied parole and although this family was hoping for at least a seven year denial, they can go on with their lives for the next five years before they have to again re-live the horrific murder of their loved ones.  

By the CNN Wire Staff

updated 7:43 PM EST, Wed November 16, 2011

(CNN) — Charles Denton “Tex” Watson, one of the chief participants in the Manson Family murders in the summer of 1969, will stay in prison at least another five years, the California Board of Parole Hearings announced Wednesday.

Watson, 65, was denied parole for the 16th time, the board said, and will not be considered again until 2016.

Watson, along with Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian were convicted in 1971 of murder and sentenced to death for the killings of five people, including the eight-months pregnant movie actress Sharon Tate, on the night of August 9, 1969. They and their leader, Charles Manson, were convicted and sentenced for stabbing Leno and Rosemary La Bianca to death the night after the Tate killings.

All their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after a California court decision struck down capital punishment.

Watson has been housed at Mule Creek State Prison since 1993, according to the parole board.