According to the nonprofit Re:store Justice, between 400 and 800 California prisoners have been convicted under "the felony murder rule." The doctrine states that accomplices to a felony, such as getaway drivers and lookouts, can be charged for first-degree murder if someone is killed during the crime. Senator Nancy Skinner, D- Berkeley, is sponsoring a bill to change this law so that only killers, someone who intended to kill, or people who played a major role in the crime could be charged with murder. Forum discusses Senate Bill 1437, which passed in the state Senate and will be voted on by the state Assembly in August.
Kate Chatfield, policy director, Re:store Justice; adjunct professor, University of San Francisco School of Law