The state's high court ruled Monday that a 2008 ballot measure increasing the time period between parole hearings for inmates serving life sentences applies to all so-called "lifers," not just those sentenced after the law passed.
The unanimous seven-member court said Monday that "Marsy's Law" applies to all because it wasn't intended to prolong punishment or change any inmate's sentence.
"Marsy's Law" expanded the legal rights of crime victims, including notifying them of all court proceedings and parole hearings. The law also intended to spare victims from having to trek to parole hearings as often as every year and imposed minimum lengths of seven, 10 and even 15 years between parole hearings for certain prisoners serving life sentences with the chance of parole.
Before Marsy's law, the maximum length between parole hearings was five years for murder and two years for all other convictions.
The law was named after Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed by a former boyfriend in 1983. Her brother Henry Nicholas, the co-founder of Broadcom Corp., contributed millions to the Proposition 9 campaign after organizing a group of legal scholars, prosecutors and others including former California Gov. Pete Wilson to draft the proposition. Nicholas is now on a quest to amend the U.S. Constitution to include victims' rights language.