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Name: People v. Brown
Case #: C056510
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/16/2010
Subsequent History: review granted 6/9/10, (S181963)

The amendment to Penal Code section 4019 should be applied retroactively to eligible defendants whose convictions were not final on the effective date of the statute. Appellant’s appeal was pending when section 4019, awarding enhanced conduct credits to qualifying defendants, became operative. He argued that per In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, he was entitled to the benefit of the amendment because by increasing credits it reduces punishment. Respondent countered penal statutes are presumed to apply prospectively (Pen. Code, § 3), and claimed the statute it does not lessen punishment, but rather increases the incentive for good behavior. The Court of Appeal noted the latter argument had been rejected in People v. Doganiere (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 237, when another conduct-credit statute was amended. Senate Bill 18 does not contain an express statement of intent, but it is clear the Legislature intended to reduce prison populations due to budget concerns. To that end, it increased conduct credits. Whatever the ultimate purpose of the amendment, its effect was to reduce the overall time of imprisonment, thus reducing punishment. As such, Estrada applies. Further, section 59 of SB 18 suggests the Legislature intended retroactive application even though that provision specifically addressed section 2933.3, a statute awarding credits once in prison and a reduction of parole if there was a delay in its implementation. If the Legislature had intended section 59 to apply to a single provision in SB 18 instead of the entire enactment, it would have placed section 59 within that single enactment rather than at the end.