On Saturday, December 23, 2017, Governor Brown granted nineteen commutations.
Of the nineteen commutations, four are women serving Life Without Parole (LWOP) sentences and five are men serving LWOP. Two of the women,
Kelly Savage and Susan Bustamante, are long-time members of the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP). All four women, including Candace Fox and Donna Jelenic, are participants in A Living Chance, CCWP’s storytelling project, and our
DROP LWOP campaign to end life without parole. Three more women serving life sentences, Valerie Campbell, Allicia Phillips and Debra Strange, had their sentences reduced. Most of the people commuted will be eligible for parole hearings immediately.
CCWP extends heartfelt congratulations to all the people commuted this round and to their families, friends and advocates. We thank Governor Brown for recognizing the profound systemic injustice reflected in these sentences, and the contributions of all the people he awarded commutation. Collectively, the women whose sentences were commuted have served over 168 years behind bars, and three of the women have been in prison for over 30 years each. Many of the women are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. We encourage Governor Brown to continue commuting sentences of the 5,000 people sentenced to LWOP throughout the rest of his term.
The increased rate of commutations is being advanced by the critical advocacy of people serving life and LWOP, and their family members and other advocates. In several of his commutation letters, the Governor acknowledged the particular impact of work being done by people serving life and LWOP, and in Kelly Savage’s letter, he recognizes
CCWP and our coalition project, Survived & Punished.