56-year-old (name withheld for privacy) currently sits in a Santa Rita jail without bail. His rap sheet is long; he’s been arrested for two murders in the past (one for which he was acquitted in the 1980s and the other for which he pled no contest in the killing of a fellow inmate) and has been convicted of rape, forcible rape, and kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual offense. But the recent charges against him have nothing to do with the terms of his parole. He’s been arrested because of “unspecified parole violations” so that local law enforcement officials can hold him for questioning in the disappearance of 50-year-old investigator for the Federal Defender in Sacramento. She’s been missing for nearly a week now and police have no leads except for him. She was last seen leaving her home on the 600 block of Aileen Street in North Oakland and supposedly headed to the drugstore.
How can the police hold him without bail? Well, the simple fact is that they couldn’t, if he wasn’t a parolee. Even after leaving prison, former California inmates may find themselves feeling as if they are still incarcerated. For the most part, the state works on a mandatory parole system. Parolees must consent to many things that other citizens do not: they may be searched at any time without a warrant; they must live within certain delineated and restricted limits; and, as in this case, they are often required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their natural lives. Parole violation hearings, however, are still subject to the same rules and regulations as criminal hearings and trials, parolees retain the right to due process (5th & 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution). Yet, it is clear that the police can often hold parolees against their will for various violations of their parole agreement, even if they have nothing to do with the crime they are investigating at the time.