The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that inmates who have been convicted of nonviolent sex crimes may be eligible for early parole consideration as part of a ballot measure that nearly two-thirds of voters approved of four years ago.

“The initiative’s language provides no indication that the voters intended to allow the (Corrections) Department to create a wholesale exclusion from parole consideration based on an inmate’s sex offense convictions when the inmate was convicted of a nonviolent felony,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in the unanimous decision.

The ruling could allow parole consideration for about 20,000 inmates, said Sacramento attorney Janice Bellucci, who argued the case and also is executive director of the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws.

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