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Interview: A second chance after life in prison

Author and criminal justice reporter Nancy Mullane

Since Jerry Brown became governor, a record number of inmates, including “lifers,” those sentenced to life behind bars, have been released from California prison. Lifers receive one of two kinds of life sentences: with or without the possibility of parole. Those sentenced with the possibility of parole are expected to use the decades spent in prison to reform themselves. They then have to go before a parole board to prove that they’re rehabilitated.

But since 1988, California’s governors have had the option to veto a parole board decision, and they’ve done so in the majority of cases, until recently.

KALW’s Holly Kernan sat down to talk with criminal justice reporter Nancy Mullane about Jerry Brown’s legacy on the decisions parole boards are making about life behind bars.

"If they find someone who has been convicted of a murder suitable for parole, and they release them back into society, this population, these convicted murderers, are the least likely to return to prison for violating a parole condition, or for committing another crime. So Jerry Brown is looking at these statistics and saying, ‘Rather than reverse the parole board's decisions, I’m going to allow those parole board decisions to stand.’”

Nancy Mullane is the author of "Life After Murder,' and is the executive producer of the radio podcast, "Life of the Law."

To listen to the full interview, please click on the audio player above.

Holly Kernan is the architect of the award-winning Public Interest Reporting Project. She is currently news director at KALW 91.7FM in San Francisco. In 2009 she was named Journalist of the Year by the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Kernan teaches journalism at Mills College and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and has taught at Santa Rosa Junior College, Youth Radio and San Francisco State University's Lifelong Learning Institute. She lives in Oakland with her husband, Mike, daughter, Julia, and retired greyhound Benjamin Franklin.