Penal Code section 3051, which is the later-enacted and more specific statute regarding parole for youthful offenders, supersedes Penal Code section 1170.1 with respect to sentences for in-prison offenses. In 1979, at age 19, Jenson committed first degree felony murder. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life. During his first nine years of incarceration, he committed three in-prison felonies: escape, possession of a weapon, and assault with a deadly weapon on an officer. The assault occurred when he was 29 years old. He received additional time for the in-prison crimes. Jenson was found suitable for parole in 2016 at a youth offender parole hearing, but CDCR did not release him and instead required him to serve the terms for his in-prison offenses. He filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Held: Petition granted. Generally, when prisoners serving indeterminate sentences commit an in-prison offense and a consecutive term is imposed, that term begins on the date the prisoner is found suitable for parole. (Pen. Code, § 1170.1, subd. (c).) However, Senate Bill No. 260, passed in 2013, sought to implement limitations on juvenile offender sentencing that had been announced in a number of state and federal cases. To that end, section 3051 established a parole mechanism that provides a defendant serving a sentence for crimes he committed before age 26 with an opportunity to obtain release upon demonstrated rehabilitation. It states that a qualified offender who committed a controlling offense as a youth is entitled to a parole hearing after a fixed period of years, depending on his sentence. Subdivision (h) states that prisoners who commit in-prison offenses after age 26 remain eligible for a parole suitability hearing, so long as any in-prison offense does not involve malice and cannot be punished by life in prison. This reflects the Legislature’s intent to exempt youth offenders from the provisions of section 1170.1, subdivision (c) and supersedes that section in this context.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B286056.PDF