By Leslie Acevedo and Vaiva Utaraite
SACRAMENTO, CA – A former prisoner sentenced to life without parole in prison testified here in the CA Senate Public Safety Committee this week—the key panel later approved a measure here at the State Capitol to restore judicial discretion in some cases.
Felony Murder Elimination Project Board Member Chryl Lamar said she supported SB 94, detailing her experience with an LWOP sentence.
Lamar said, “SB 94 would restore judicial discretion, allowing judges to review cases that were imposed in the 1970s and 80s. This bill does not guarantee resentencing or release, but allows judges to decide if a parole-eligible sentence is in line with modern-day sentencing practices.”
She said she was initially incarcerated in September 1986 and her sentence was commuted by CA Gov. Gavin Newsom in December 2020. She had served a total of “34 years on a double LWOP sentence” and was released at the age of 69, she said.
“Decades of self-motivated rehabilitation allowed me to understand how my childhood impacted my life and crime. For example, being abandoned at one-month-old by my mother and being molested at the age of nine by family members, and I take full responsibility for my healing,” said Lamar.
Lamar added, “Had I still been inside today I would be eligible for SB 94 should it pass.
“Realizing that there were no parole options available for me, I still exhibited decades of exemplary behavior, participated in self-motivated self-help programming, working to understand the root cause of my behavior to be truly accountable for my actions,” said Lamar.
Due to her lived experiences, Lamar notes she committed herself to becoming a positive member of her community while incarcerated and believes she has proven it is possible to reenter society and become a productive member committed to contribution to the community.