University of Southern California

California’s Inequitable Parole System: A Proposal to Reestablish Fairness

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Note by Daniel Weiss
From Volume 78, Number 6 (September, 2005)

Dana Hill is currently serving fifteen years to life in a California prison, and for the past few years, she has struggled to convince the Board of Prison Terms (“Board”) and the Governor that she is suitable for parole and ready to reenter society. Dana is but one victim of modern parole, a draconian system used as a mechanism of enforcing retributive principles. Modern parole falls far short of achieving the goals of rehabilitation and reintegration for which it was created.

When Dana was a child, her stepfather was physically abusive, and for her own safety, she left her family’s home at the age of fifteen. She served a two-year stint in the Navy, beginning at age seventeen. Shortly after being discharged, she befriended her codefendant, Keith Chandler, who introduced her to cocaine. Addicted to cocaine and in need of money, Dana met a man named Marion Canter, who had “both money and a preference for young women.” Shortly after they met, Canter began to pay Dana’s expenses and to allow her to live with him, rent-free, until they had a disagreement and he abruptly evicted her. In need of money, Dana, along with Chandler and another person, devised a plan to rob Canter. During the robbery, Dana’s codefendants insisted that she hit Canter over the head to subdue him, but the one blow that Dana inflicted was insufficient to render Canter unconscious. After Dana struck Canter, her codefendants wrestled him to the bed and proceeded to strangle him with an electrical cord. Frightened by her codefendants’ actions, Dana left the room, and when she returned five to ten minutes later, her codefendants were in the final stages of strangling Canter. About two weeks later, Dana turned herself over to the police department and cooperated in the investigation. In 1984, Dana pleaded guilty to second-degree felony murder for her involvement in Canter’s death.

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