Special Edition: California Prisons Invest in Rehabilitation for "Lifer" Inmates
Until recently, prisoners serving life sentences in California had slim chances of ever getting paroled. With sentences of 15, 25 or 30 years to life, most of these so-called "lifers" are doing time for murder. Now, driven by court rulings that make it harder to deny parole, a record number of lifers are getting out -- nearly 2,300 since 2009, or more than three times the number paroled in the previous 17 years combined.
For the first time, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is offering classes aimed directly at lifers to prepare them for life on the outside. The prisoners who participate don't know if they'll ever get out, but they say the classes help them develop life skills, understand the impact of their crimes, and show the parole board that they're no longer a risk to public safety.
Scott Shafer goes inside Solano Prison in Vacaville to see what the CDCR's programs have to offer and also hears from a paroled lifer about his struggles and successes.
Thuy Vu talks with parole board chief Jennifer Shaffer about what the board looks for and how hearings are conducted. A panel discussion moderated by Scott Shafer provides additional perspective.