When he was Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger really lived up to his famous movie persona, The Terminator. In his years in office the Govinator signed off on just 27% of parole board decisions to grant parole to prisoners serving life sentences, meaning 557 lifers were released during Schwarzenegger’s six years. Before that Governor Gray Davis approved the release of two prisoners serving life during his term in office.
But Governor Jerry Brown had changed course drastically — toward leniency. Brown “has approved parole for roughly 2,300 lifers convicted of murder and about 450 lifers sentenced for lesser offenses,” according to the Washington Post. At one point Brown was approving parole board recommendations for lifers at an 82% rate. That’s good news for Leslie Van Houten and her quest for freedom 50 years after her involvement in the Charles Manson murders. A panel recently recommended parole for Van Houten. If the recommendation clears administrative review, it then goes to Gov. Brown for final approval. The bad news for Van Houten is that in January Governor Brown rejected parole for 73-year-old murderer and Manson family member Bruce Davis.