Monday, May 19, 2014

Exciting Day for Formerly Incarcerated People!

Today, May 19, is the Formerly Incarcerated People's Quest for Democracy day. And it's a good day to inform you of some happy news!

You may recall the ongoing quest to restore voting rights to inmates not serving time in prison. The previous installment, which addressed people serving felony sentences in jail post-realignment, failed. But on May 7, an Alameda County Superior Court judge found that people under mandatory supervision or post-release community supervision, who are not incarcerated in prison OR in jail OR on parole, were entitled to vote! The full text of the decision in Scott v. Bowen is here.

The court's interpretation seems right on the money. The right to vote is so fundamental, that any opaqueness in the language of the law should be interpreted as to facilitate, rather than curtail, its extent.

But what's more important, the court provides a fairly broad and generous interpretation of the Realignment as not solely a cost-saving project, but a transformation aimed at increasing rehabilitation and reducing recidivism, of which civic participation is an important part.

Much of the credit for the decision goes to the ACLU of Northern California, the Lawyers Committee, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. And now we wait to see if the Secretary of State will appeal. I very much hope she won't.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Worse than Iran: Solitary Confinement

Seven months after his release from prison in Iran, former hostage Shane Bauer visits Pelican Bay and is shocked by the conditions. His prison conditions in Iran were better than those he saw in California.