New bills regarding the death penalty, juveniles and gangs

February 28th, 2012
The following article was sent to us by The Criminal Justice Information Network
At Deadline Legislature Introduces Hundreds of New Bills: Juveniles, Gangs, and the Death Penalty
Friday, February 24th was the deadline for legislators to introduce bills. More than 800 bill proposals were filed on the final 2 days. Here are a few bills of interest:
SB 1514 (Anderson R) Death sentences: automatic appeal.
Current law requires an automatic appeal to be made to the State Supreme Court in death penalty, or capital, cases. This bill would remove this right to an automatic appeal. The bill would instead allow for an appeal to be taken to an appellate court in the same manner as non-capital cases, except under certain circumstances. Click for the full language here.
SB 1363 (Yee D) Juveniles: solitary confinement.
Would require that juveniles shall not be placed in solitary confinement unless they are found to be a substantial and immediate risk of harm to others and all other less-restrictive options have been exhausted. When a juvenile is placed in solitary confinement under this bill, correctional facility staff must take certain precautions as regards to mental health. In addition, the youth must maintain their rights, such as the right to bed and bedding, education, and religious services, among others. Click for the full language here.
SB 1506 (Leno D) Possession of controlled substances: penalties.
This bill would reclassify simple drug possession offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year. Click for the full language here.
SB 1307 (Runner R) Criminal street gangs: registration.
Current law requires anyone who has committed a crime that the court finds is ?gang related? to register their residential address within 10 days of release from custody. This bill would require this registration to occur annually and for each time an address is changed. It would make it a misdemeanor to fail to register or update registration. Because this bill amends law that was enacted through Proposition 21, a citizen?s initiative that was approved in 2000, the bill will require a 2/3 vote. Click for the full language here.


February 16, 2012
You may have already signed and that’s great. We have modified the wording and included the complete joint statement from people inside both women’s prisons in Chowchilla, CA.
Please pass it on and reply if your organization wants to be listed as an endorser.
Currently there are over 2,650 women and transgender prisoners housed at VSPW. Instead of releasing thousands who are eligible to go home, CDCR is planning to transfer them to the Central California Women’s Facility (159% over capacity) and California Institution for Women (139% over capacity.)
Our communities have endured and suffered forced removals and relocations of people openly and under false pretexts for generations. Even though no prison is where anyone wants to or needs to be, closing and moving women out of this one is yet another uprooting to the detriment, and against the will of, people rendered powerless and whose humanity is disregarded.

Tell Tom Ammiano to Repeal AB 900

San Francisco —
CALL and EMAIL Assemblyperson Tom Ammiano and demand an end to Prison and Jail expansion!

Right now, California residents are preparing for catastrophe as millions of dollars are being released through the notorious AB 900 legislation to be used to build more and bigger jails. We know more jails means more of our loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors locked up, and less resources for meaningful work, good schools, decent housing, and reliable healthcare.
Join CURB in demanding an end to the largest prison expansion project in world history. Help us pressure and encourage elected officials to take a stand against further devastation of our communities. We are encouraging San Francisco residents of Tom Ammiano’s district to call his office and strongly encourage him to listen to the people and repeal AB900.
By making use of our collective voice and power, we can lead the way in repealing this monstrous legislation.
We will begin burning up the phone lines and sending flurries of emails starting Friday, Feb. 10th and want to keep going strong through Friday, Feb. 17th!

Valley State Prison inmates express concerns over pending conversion

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 – 1:35 pm

Valley State Prison Inmates Express Concerns Over Pending Conversion

Inmates at Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) have flooded the office of Madera County District 2 Supervisor David Rogers with letters expressing their concerns and fears over the state’s plan to convert the prison to a men’s facility.
“These concerns,” Rogers said, “range from losing valuable rehabilitative programs and the potential of being housed near women who have threatened their safety.”
Recent numbers show about 3,000 women are housed in VSPW, Rogers said, which is 150 percent of design capacity. At Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), the second women’s prison located in Chowchilla, there are about 3,400 inmates, 180 percent of design capacity, Rogers said. The only other women’s facility, California Institute for Women (CIW), houses almost 2,000 inmates and was designed for 1,200.
“These women are concerned that the two facilities which will remain after the conversion, CCWF and CIW, will be more crowded than the three are today,” Rogers said. “This goes against the court order that mandated the reduction in population. The concerns that launched the lawsuit against California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation were based on inadequate mental health and medical services.
“How are those services going to be administered to a greater, more condensed population with the existing staff? It makes no sense.”
Rogers added that he fully supports law enforcement and knows the women are in prison to pay for their own actions. He also said the correctional officers who have adjusted to overseeing women will now have to adjust to overseeing men, who are much more violent behind bars.
The letters, while focused on the overcrowding expected at the remaining two women’s prisons, express the fear that not even the correctional officers will be able to protect them, Rogers noted.
” ‘CDCR is failing to protect us,’ one woman wrote,” Rogers said, ” ‘by putting us into a crowded, hostile and volatile situation.’ That’s not what the federal court intended.”
The prison now has about 55 self-help groups initiated and run by inmates, Rogers said.
“These women have dedicated themselves to rehabilitation, and now they are afraid of losing these valuable resources,” Rogers said, adding that CCWF only has about six groups. “According to these women, the inmates at CCWF don’t want the additional groups. Besides, if they’re going to be packed into two prisons, there won’t be time, space or resources for these groups.”
“They have asked me to be their voice on the outside,” Rogers said. “I’m going to do just that. Already my staff has made contacts with state and federal representatives, and has reached out to non-profit organizations that fight for incarcerated women’s rights. The things these women claim have happened, the fear they express in these letters ? No one should have to live in fear.
“They are paying their debts to society and aren’t asking anything more than what they have rights to. To live in a safe and secure environment, and have the medical and mental health care they need. Every human is entitled to that, whether they’ve made mistakes or not.”
Most of the letters, Rogers said, come from women serving long-term or life sentences.
” ‘VSPW has a good reputation as far as having the most self-help groups ? mostly facilitated by inmates themselves,’ one woman wrote,” Rogers said as he read from the woman’s letter. ” ‘The lifer/long-termer population has worked very hard not only to better ourselves, but to give back to the outside community. These programs will no longer exist if we are moved to CCWF.’ That’s just wrong.
“Another woman wrote, ‘We have been made aware of threats of violence against us if we are moved to CCWF and that staff there do not want us to reestablish our programs once we arrive.’ ” Rogers said.
Rogers noted that yet another woman said she gave law enforcement information years ago that helped convict a woman. That woman, he added, is incarcerated at CCWF.
“This woman said she was in fear for her life should she be housed at CCWF,” Rogers said. “This woman has documented the CCWF inmate as an enemy, someone she believes will do harm to her. She also said someone on staff told her if she didn’t retract her documentation, she would be housed in Administrative Segregation.
“For her safety, they’re going to lock her up and keep her from the programs she has been doing so well with. Again, that doesn’t make sense and I can’t believe the federal courts intended to lock a woman up twice ? once in prison, and again in a secure housing unit.”
Rogers said another inmate had a list of concerns that, she said, are not being addressed, such as enemy concerns and possibly being housed in total lockdown if they do not sign waivers clearing those concerns, the housing arrangements when there aren’t enough beds, medical care and the increase in waiting times to see doctors, and how the population in lockdown will gain access to the law library. Others expressed concerns over the amount of gang-related violence at CCWF, Rogers said.
” ‘I am writing to you with the hopes that you will be the voice of prison inmates,’ ” Rogers read from another letter. ” ‘I am not requesting special treatment, just that we be heard and have our concerns taken into consideration before any drastic changes occur.’ ”
“This prison, according to the inmates, is like a community,” Rogers said. “They are facilitators, mentors, teachers, peace-keepers and mediators through these self-help groups. They have bonded because they have common interests and goals to turn their lives around. How can someone not respect that?
“They talk about the stress levels they’re living with due to this conversion. I can only imagine what they’re going through from the passionate words that pour from these letters. My heart goes out to them, but that’s not going to make their living situations better. Someone has to put a stop to this. And I’m going to do everything in my power, through the contacts I’ve made at the state and federal levels, to help them.”
Read more here: Posted in 2012 Legislation

Bill to Amend California’s Three Strikes Law Passes Appropriations Committee

January 23, 2011

Bill to Amend
California’s Three Strikes Law Passes Appropriations Committee

On January 19th, AB 327 (Davis), a bill to amend California?s Three Strikes Law cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee. AB 327 must pass the full Assembly by January 31, 2012. If AB 327 passes the Assembly, the bill will move to the Senate where it will have until June 28th to pass the Senate policy committee, the Senate fiscal committee, and the Senate Floor.
The bill would put an initiative on the ballot to require that the ?third strike? of the California Three Strikes Law be classified as ?serious? or ?violent?. Assemblymember Mike Davis, whose district includes a portion of the city of Los Angeles and Inglewood, amended AB 327 to carry the current language on January 4, 2012. For the full language click here.
More than 24,500 nonviolent offenders are serving two or three times what they would have served if they have not been convicted under California?s Three Strikes Law. Many of these offenders are serving life sentences. For example, nonviolent crimes such as possession of a controlled substance, filling out a false DMV application, and petty theft are crimes that can put someone behind bars for life under the current Three Strikes Law.
AB 327 would give voters the opportunity to revisit the original goal of this law amidst the current fiscal and prison overcrowding crisis.
There were four organizations that testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing: California State Conference of the NAACP, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), and Friends Committee on Legislation of California (FCLCA). The two organizations that testified in opposition are: the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) and Crime Victims United of California (CVUC).