SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Assembly Bill (AB) 665 would repeal protections that offer parole hearings to juveniles sentenced to life in prison without parole.
AB 665 is also known as "Erik’s Law" and is named after Erik Ingebretsen, a Colusa County teenager who was murdered by his friends in 1997.
One of the convicted killers, Nathan Ramazzini, was 16 years old at the time of the murder. For the charge of murder with a special circumstance of lying in wait, Ramazzini was given the harshest sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“What Nathan did to my brother that night with a bat and knife is so grotesque that, out of respect for my parents who are here today, I simply won’t speak of it,” said Devin Lobardi, the sister of the murdered teen.
On Wednesday at the California State Capitol, Ingebretsen's family joined state lawmakers and crime victim advocates in announcing the bill.
If passed, AB 665 would repeal Senate Bill (SB) 394, which was passed in 2017.
SB 394 was part of an overhaul to the state's criminal justice system and an effort to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
SB 394 gives juveniles sentenced to life without parole the opportunity to receive a parole hearing after serving 25 years in prison. It does not guarantee that a criminal be released on parole; it only guarantees a parole hearing.
Advocates of SB 394 say it's fair to both victims and offenders. Nina Salarno Besselman with Crime Victims United of California wants SB 394 to be repealed.
“It [AB 665] repeals a very dangerous, irresponsible, and unconscionable law that was passed in 2017,” Salarno Besselman said. “That law benefited only half of the criminal justice system, the criminal.”
Erik’s Law was proposed by Assemblymember James Gallagher (R) of Yuba City and Senator Jim Nielsen (R) of Tehama.
Members of the group Human Rights Watch are opposing the bill.
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