If you've followed the litigation in Plata/Coleman from the mid-2000s forward, you probably think you've seen it all: the dawdling, the evasion maneuvers, the political blackmail. But today I have something really special for you. As you might know, the court has ordered a special parole regime to ensure early releases. What did the Attorney General's office have to say? The L.A. Times reports:
Most of those prisoners now work as groundskeepers, janitors and in prison kitchens, with wages that range from 8 cents to 37 cents per hour. Lawyers for Attorney General Kamala Harris had argued in court that if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.
Yes, you've read it right. The Attorney General's office now opposes early releases BECAUSE THOSE WILL DEPRIVE IT OF A CHEAP LABOR FORCE. The prisons can only function if prisoners work in them, so... we need to keep them in.
I'm sure I don't need to explain why this is a shockingly conscienceless rationale to keep people incarcerated and pay them abysmal wages, and much as I resist the unsubtle comparisons made in The New Jim Crow, this really, really reeks of postbellum resistance. Ugh. Shame on you, Ms. Harris.
Sheeeeeit! Every time I think I'll never be surprised again, something like this comes along. Beyond outrageous!!
Last week Attorney General Kamala D. Harris’ office was arguing against reducing sentences for those who participate in rehab or education programs because the California Department of Corrections would “lose an important labor pool.” Instead of releasing people back to their communities CDCR needs their labor in prison kitchens, janitorial and groundskeeping crews.
Take Action Now - Demand an apology from the Attorney General's office and push for these releases to be expedited. Please sign:
I have it on good authority that the "labor pool" Ms. Harris is arguing about comes from minimum custody, as well as non-minimum custody inmates. CDCR will not be without workers to do the menial tasks that they are so worried about. In the meantime, the Feds have ordered that CDCR begin implementing a plan for parole release for non-violent second strikers, effective 1/1/15. They have not made an order regarding the minimum custody credits yet.
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