Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Same Sex Marriage and CA Prisons

The big news in the correctional world is that the CA assembly has approved Gov. Brown's recent proposal to use $315 million of my money and yours to build private prisons. This is not the end of the story, however, because--

[a]pproval by the full Assembly would set the stage for a showdown in the Senate, where Democrats oppose the measure. They want more money spent on rehabilitation services and drug and mental health treatment so offenders do not end up back in prison after their release.

Meanwhile, Day 58 of the hunger strike brought a statement of frustration from the mediation team, who was encouraged to hear about the potential public hearings, but concerned for the strikers' deteriorating health.

And, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano has submitted a query to CDCR regarding same-sex marriage for inmates. Here is the CDCR memo, verbatim, from scribd:

In other words, inmates are now allowed to wed non-inmates in CDCR institutions. There are two notable things about this: First, that inmates who are both currently incarcerated cannot get married. This is, presumably, a continuation of the previous policy, but since prisons are segregated by gender it becomes much more meaningful now that folks of the same sex can get married. And second, that chaplains may refuse to perform the ceremony on conscience grounds, but in that case CDCR will substitute the refusing chaplain with another officiant.

The no-marrying-already-incarcerated-inmates rules, which is presumably in line with previous policy, raises some interesting questions. What happens if two women, who are already married, both get prison sentences (say, for unrelated felonies)? Does CDCR have policies about whether they should be kept in the same facility or in different facilities? And, while inmates can't marry each other, surely they can have relationships with each other, and so, why the prohibition?

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