California’s Parole Board goes by the book, even when it comes to the most heinous murderers. It pretty much has to, or its decisions will be overturned by the courts, which must rule on the letter of the law.
But not all cases fit into the letter of the law. Some crimes are so vicious that even if the perpetrators have reformed in prison, earned Ph.D. degrees while incarcerated, led prayer groups for years and otherwise been exemplary convicts, they should never be freed.
So the decisions of most California governors to keep denying freedom to many murderers can be more than just politics, even when they’re designed to spare those governors political embarrassment.
A classic example is Gov. Jerry Brown’s refusal in early March to go along with a decision of the Board of Parole Hearings to free two-time murderer Bruce Davis, a longtime loyal follower of mass murderer Charles Manson who did earn a Ph.D. while in prison...