Gov. Brown could sign vote-from-jail law

 

prison-jailHeightening the stakes in the criminal justice debate roiling the country at large, Gov. Jerry Brown could soon greenlight a law that would allow some state felons to vote from jail.

California has wound up in the middle of the pack on state laws around criminals and voting rights. “Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow felons to vote while behind bars,” KTVU noted, while “14 states restore voting rights automatically when a person is released from prison. 4 states, including California, restore voting rights after completion of parole.” The new rule, if Brown were to sign AB2466, carves out an exception for felons shifted out of state prisons due to realignment.

Constitutional claims

For that reason, advocates of the bill have characterized it as more of a formality than an overhaul of the state’s criminal law. In 2011, the Criminal Justice Realignment Act “created new sentencing categories for low-level, nonviolent offenders to remedy unconstitutionally overcrowded state prisons,” the NAACP’s Janai Nelson noted in the Los Angeles Times. “Instead of time in state prison, minor felony convictions now result in a term in the county jail followed by release under what’s known as mandatory or community supervision.” Given the opportunity to rule on how that changed status squares with voting laws, “Alameda County Superior Court already has held that people subject to this new form of mandatory or community supervision are not ‘on parole’ and therefore retain their right to vote,” Nelson added, claiming AB2466 would simply “codify that ruling” and eliminate any “ambiguity in how a felony conviction affects voter eligibility” in California. 

But critics have countered that the parole language is not as relevant to a proper interpretation of standing law as other elements of voters’ 1976 addition to the state constitution. “The Legislature shall prohibit improper practices that affect elections and shall provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony,” that language ran in full. Although supporters of AB2466 “contend that the word ‘imprisoned’ in the California Constitution refers to a state prison, but not a county jail,” the looser interpretation AB2466 embraces “would create an odd circumstance in which inmates out of prison on parole are prohibited from voting, but felons behind bars in county jails could vote” — a view held by the state Sheriffs’ Association, as legislative director Cory Salzillo suggested to the Daily Signal. Given the low level of the judiciary ruling used as a baseline by AB2466, that could invite further litigation that would effectively freeze or scuttle the legislation before it is implemented. 

Signaling and consequences

For the bill’s supporters, that risk appeared to be one worth taking. “I wrote AB2466 because I want to send a message to the nation that California will not stand for discrimination in voting,” Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, said in a statement, indicating a preference to pass legislation now and consider later whether it squares legitimately with the state Constitution. Weber has also advanced a bill that would add a five year period of eligibility for nonviolent felons petitioning a sentencing reduction in the wake of Proposition 47, which changed their crimes to misdemeanors. “But issues surrounding Proposition 47 generate significant controversy” as well, the Los Angeles Times recently observed. “The California Police Chiefs Assn. has blamed the initiative for a recent increase in property crimes across the state.”

In a final wrinkle fueling concern around the vote-from-jail law, impacted felons would face a logical but potentially problematic geographic restriction on their vote. “Under AB2466, these inmates would vote in the district where they are incarcerated,” noted state Sen. Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, in the Orange County Register. “For example, an inmate whose home residence is in San Clemente would be able to vote for local races affecting Santa Ana, since that is where Orange County’s Central Jail is located.” 

14 comments

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  1. Dude
    Dude 21 September, 2016, 17:55

    Effing retarded liberals…

    Reply this comment
  2. Art
    Art 21 September, 2016, 18:09

    This just keeps getting worse and worse…

    Reply this comment
  3. Bronson Death Wish
    Bronson Death Wish 21 September, 2016, 18:18

    Jerry,
    I am opposed to you signing this. I fear it may be a catalyst for a relapse.
    Love,
    Charlie

    Reply this comment
  4. Prophetfortheblind
    Prophetfortheblind 21 September, 2016, 18:38

    Is our Legislature blind? Our towns are an overflowing cesspool of drug addicted transients illegally camping on State right of ways, depositing their trash and human waste along streams, degrading the environment, forcing their dysfunction on society, stealing from tax paying citizens, dropping the property values, making California the cesspoll State, these clowns focus on the most non priority issues they can waste their time on! Like eliminating the tax on tampoons?? Really? Thats a priority? Eliminate guns? Haha..ya think you will turn a bunch of law abiding citizens into criminals? Now to let prisoners vote?…wait till they finish probation and quit wasting time and tax dollars on non issues. Is this another Killary Minion idea or what? Read some of the posts online fools and see how many good taxpayers are bailing on this State, then pat yourselves on the back for turning the State into the cesspool you created. Get your priorities straight!

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 21 September, 2016, 18:47

    Comrades

    Get ready. Civilization will continue to degrade……personal security and survival……..in the jungle enviro…..every Comrade for thy self…..there will be none of that “takes a village” stuff.

    Reply this comment
  6. Mike
    Mike 21 September, 2016, 20:28

    Prophet, They are making Cal like their home, the geographic bunghole called Mexico.
    A guy in a sombrero taking a dump in the stream and a seniorita filling up her bucket with water from the same stream for dinner. Little Sergio noticing that bucket is gross and the tamales smell like shit. Taco Bell in Ingleside looks good.

    Reply this comment
  7. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 21 September, 2016, 23:04

    Moonbeam is a total idiot and a pinhead just another memeber o the rottenists party of lowlife sidewinders and no account polecats this party of the worst kind DIRTY DIRTY DEMAC-RATS

    Reply this comment
  8. Leaving Soon
    Leaving Soon 22 September, 2016, 11:23

    What a bunch of $hit. Just when you think it can’t get worse. We our outta here in 8 months. What a relief!

    Reply this comment
  9. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 22 September, 2016, 11:24

    This is insanity. There is no justifiable reason to allow convicted felons to vote, period. This is one of the rights they forfeit when they are convicted of the crime(s) they have committed. If you don’t want to lose your right to vote, don’t commit crimes.
    Excuse me.

    Reply this comment
  10. Leaving Soon
    Leaving Soon 22 September, 2016, 16:11

    Criminals- the perfect democratic voting base! Makes sense now.

    Reply this comment
  11. Queeg
    Queeg 22 September, 2016, 16:36

    Comrades

    They will vote in dry aged t-bone steaks weekly, Memphis hand rubbed bbq on patriotic holidays with live Willie Nelson/Garth Brooks concerts and summer New England seafood boils monthly with Food Network chefs’ dutifully preparing gourmet tartar/cocktail sauces.

    Your dime…..don’t you love Republics-

    Reply this comment
  12. milton
    milton 22 September, 2016, 19:58

    Why don t we make voting like the voting for the NBA all star game? Anyone can vote, including the whole world Vote early and vote often.
    In a NBA frame of mind, can we put Obimba’s picture on Food stamps?

    Reply this comment
  13. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 23 September, 2016, 08:17

    Moonbeam and Newsom belong in jail themselves for their anti constitutional laws and regulations Lock them up and throw away the key

    Reply this comment
  14. Ted. Mentor to the doomed....Builder of the FUTURE!
    Ted. Mentor to the doomed....Builder of the FUTURE! 26 September, 2016, 20:38

    LOL– Like the jailbirds are all going to suddenly get civic minded and vote—can’t you goofy tea baggers and doomers find something real to bitch about??? LMAO

    Reply this comment

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