SCR 48 (Senate Concurrent Resolution 48) is a bill that is intended to reform the Felony Murder Rule in California, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and awaiting Governor Brown’s signature as it has passed in both the California State Assembly and California State Senate.
Ultimately, SCR 48 is a bill that recognizes punishment for felony murder should be proportionate to the crime committed. In California, a person can be sentenced to life in prison for a first-degree murder conviction, even though the individual did not actually murder someone. In fact, California prisons are filled with inmates facing life behind bars for murders they didn’t actually commit. Doesn’t make sense, but here is a possible scenario that could leave someone facing a life prison term for felony murder without actually having committed the crime.
The Felony Murder Rule applies when a crime that is considered “inherently dangerous” such as burglary, arson, rape, kidnapping, or robbery occurs and a person is killed – the defendant does not have to be the one who committed the act, or even have to act with reckless indifference or intent to be convicted of felony murder. Is it fair for someone who may have taken part in an “inherently dangerous” crime but who did not actually commit murder to face the exact same punishment as the person who did actually commit murder? For most, it doesn’t seem fair.