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Published on Aug 29, 2012
Bernice was sentenced to life under the Three Strikes law for simple possession of $10 worth of drugs. She is now 59 years old, a grandmother several times over, and she suffers from an advanced form of terminal cancer. Bernice walks with the assistance of a cane and had one of her kidneys removed while in state prison. She has served over 14 years for her drug offense. Bernice has never injured anyone.
Earlier this year, at the recommendation of prison doctors, the executive committee of a California parole board met to consider a compassionate release petition for Bernice. Despite the fact that Bernice has less than six months to live, is ambulatory only with the assistance of a walker, and would be housed by her daughter and a trained drug-treatment counselor, the parole board denied her release.
Under current law, Bernice would not have another opportunity for parole until 2023. Murderers and rapists receive shorter prison sentences.