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Parole Court Sends Thousands To Prison

Publication Date: 
December 15, 2009
Daily Journal
Greg Katz

Kara Dansky, executive director of Stanford Law School's Criminal Justice Center, is quoted in the Daily Journal on California's parole revocation system:

Imagine you're a defendant in a court system where hearings take place in prison, behind closed doors, while you are shackled to the floor.

You get an attorney who can subpoena witnesses, but the court doesn't compel them to show up. Hearsay evidence from law enforcement is allowed, and you can be convicted without being allowed to confront your accuser.

There is no jury. There is also no prosecutor; rather, the judge is charged with protecting public safety, creating a dual role with an inherent conflict. This hearing officer may or may not be a lawyer.

To send you to prison, he does not have to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, only 51 percent likely to have done what you're accused of.

You're not in Guantánamo Bay. You're in California's parole revocation system.


"The framers of the Constitution and the citizens of our 13 original colonies created the Bill of Rights because they felt these kinds of protections were important," said Kara Dansky, executive director of Stanford Law School's Criminal Justice Center. "By using these administrative proceedings, we essentially do away with all of those protections for the accused."