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San Francisco-Prisoners’ advocates had hoped that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would grant parole more often than his predecessor. Those hopes have begun to fade as the new governor upended a handful of decisions by the Board of Prison Terms. Schwarzenegger reversed three decisions recently to grant parole to convicted murderers. That comes after two other reversals in recent days and one request that the board review a parole decision. Julie Dobie, a Schwarzenegger spokeswoman, said the administration had no comment on the governor’s weekend parole reversals. The moves echo the hard-line policy on parole by former Governor Gray Davis. During his five years in office, Davis reversed nearly every decision involving a convicted murderer. He approved only eight releases of 294 murderers that came across his desk. Inmate lawyers had applauded Schwarzenegger during his first few days in office when he approved release dates for two people convicted of second-degree murder. At the time, a spokesman for the new administration said Schwarzenegger will allow the board to do its job and will intervene only when he believes it made an egregious error. ‘Not encouraging’ “I think it’s a little early but it’s certainly not encouraging,” said Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office at San Quentin. Davis’ parole stance set off a wave of litigation by prisoners’ rights advocates, who argued the former governor was abusing his discretion with a policy that seemed based on his political beliefs, not a review of the evidence in each case. Specter was involved in the highest-profile challenge to the governor’s parole powers. He represented Robert Rosenkrantz, a convicted murderer whose parole had been approved by the Board of Prison Terms. Last year, the California Supreme Court in In re Rosenkrantz, 24 Cal. 4th 616, rejected Rosenkrantz’s claim that Davis was misusing his power-issuing a clear victory for the governor.

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