Grieving Widower and Defense Attorney Denounces Major Problems with SB 399 Passed by California Senate

Posted on June 11, 2009. Filed under: Parole |

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release: June 6, 2009

(Lafayette, California ) This week the California Senate passed SB 399, a bill sponsored by Senator Leland Yee that would give all murderers sentenced to Life Without the Possibility of Parole, who were under age 18 at the time of their crimes, a chance at parole. Defense Attorney Daniel Horowitz, widower of a woman murdered by one of these 240 or so California “special circumstance” murderers, has been studying the situation closely and to highlight the major problems he sees with the bill, he has put up a new website:

Daniel Horowitz says: “On October 15, 2005, my wife Pamela was murdered by a young man who was just shy of 17 years of age. He was a serial killer by his own design.  Pamela’s courageous fight for her life marked this killer and created the forensic evidence that led to his conviction.  Had she not fought so bravely, he would have escaped and he would have killed again, and again. SB 399 is a bill that will change California’s criminal sentencing system and it will give a chance at parole for all people who killed if they did this before they were 18 years of age. This parole would be available to Child Rapist/Murderers, Torturers, and Serial Killers. I oppose injustice but we must not use isolated instances of injustice as an excuse to free serial killers. There are other minor reform solutions available to those few cases that need to be addressed, that would not at the same time endanger the rest of us. And we must avoid adding an immense new expense to an already over-burdened state budget.”

Mr. Horowitz did a professional analysis of the financial costs of SB 399 to the taxpayers of California and published his findings on the website. It shows that SB 399 would be incredibly expensive – and in a state already overwhelmed by financial burdens for even basic necessities it cannot afford. Daniel Horowitz also published on his website a detailed critique of a report published by Human Rights Watch that led directly to the creation of SB 399. It turns out the report on the California “juvenile life without parole” situation is flawed and ridden with errors. Mr. Horowitz continues his practice as a defense attorney who also works as a supporter of victims of juvenile murderers like himself.

Many in the state of California who are concerned with public safety, victims of violent crime, and law enforcement have come out against SB 399. These groups include the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, Inc., Crime Victims United of California, Klaas Kids Foundation, Crime Victims Action Alliance, the California District Attorneys Association, and others. NOVJL, the National Organization of Victims of “Juvenile Lifers”, is greatly concerned with not only the real danger many families face if these offenders were to be released early, but also the un-ending re-traumatization of parole hearings for the rest of their lives these victims’ families would face, should this bill become law. We call on Senator Yee to hold further action on the bill until he has worked with the prosecutors of the state to find and notify all the victims of these crimes about his intention to try to change these life sentences. Senator Yee’s retroactive intention to undo the life without parole sentences of those who murdered their loved ones violates victims’ constitutional rights by denying them knowledge of, and a voice in, their own cases.

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