Groups want voting rights restored for thousands of state prisoners sent to county jails

Since jails aren't prisons, 'realignment' could give 30,000-plus 'constitutional right to vote'

The California League of Women Voters and two other nonprofit groups asked a state appeals court in San Francisco Wednesday to rule that

85,000 low-level felony offenders who were placed in the state's realignment program are entitled to vote.

The groups' lawsuit concerns people who were convicted of nonviolent, nonsexual felonies and put in county jails or under county supervision rather than state prisons or parole as a result of the realignment enacted by the Legislature last fall.

The realignment was intended to reduce severe overcrowding in state prisons, in response to a U.S. Supreme Court order, and decrease recidivism by giving local communities a larger role in rehabilitation.

The California corrections department has estimated that by June 2013, realignment will have sent about 30,000 low-level offenders to county jails instead of state prisons and placed another 55,000 under county supervision instead of state parole.

The lawsuit claims the California Constitution allows people in those categories to vote because it grants suffrage to all citizens except those "imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony."

The county jail and supervision provided under realignment do not qualify as state prison or parole, the lawsuit argues.

"Realignment now returns those California citizens to their communities. They have a constitutional right to vote," attorneys from the

American Civil Liberties Union wrote in the lawsuit.

The chief defendant in the case is Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who sent county registrars a memo in December instructing them not to allow

offenders in the realignment program to register to vote.

The memo reasoned that the jail sentences and county supervision were structurally equivalent to state prison and parole in the cases of

convicted felons.

The lawsuit asks the Court of Appeal to invalidate that memo and order Bowen to allow the realigned offenders to vote. It also asks the court to act in time to enable the offenders to register by an Oct. 22 deadline for voting in the November general election.

ACLU attorneys said they filed the suit directly in the appeals court because that court has the power to act swiftly. The panel has no deadline for acting on the case.

Bowen spokeswoman Shannan Velayas said the secretary of state's office does not comment on pending lawsuits.

— Bay City News Service


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Frogleg
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:49 am

It seems there is just no end to the crazy ideas that the left wing loons in California can come up with? With all the pressing problems with have in California, these three loon groups' priority is giving the vote back to prisoners??? Does long-term weed use do this to one's brain or is this simply a case of "liberalism is a mental disorder"?

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Posted by Dave
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

Unbelievable. We feed them, we give them a roof over their head, we get nothing from them but a tax bill and the ACLU thinks we should let them vote? Let me vote on it...I vote NO!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by No prisoner opinions wanted
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2012 at 11:21 am

Why should they vote on laws and lawmakers, when they have made choices to ignore/disobey these laws. They have forfeited this right.
The League is a shadow/ pseudo Democrat organization, and is working overtime on this really bad for society idea. Spare us from prisoner's votes.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Candy
a resident of Country Fair
on Mar 8, 2012 at 11:40 am

They go to prison, they do their punishment, they get out, start a family, get a job, contribute to society, and they want to vote? Get outta here! What? Do they think they are citizens or the United States or something? Isn't letting Democrats vote bad enough. Now we have to let ex-cons vote too?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm

@candy...let me get this are saying that after they get out of jail, so they have paid their dues, and they become a contributing member of society again, pay taxes etc. that they should not have the right to vote? Its bad enough we let republicans reproduce!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nancy-duh
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Nancy, you are another unwitting victim of the PW troll, who posts nothing of value, unless you value poor attempts at sarcasm.
You let Republicans reproduce? Is that because you hadn't yet trampled on various religions beliefs and forced them to pay for abortifacients?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by cal
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

They should be able to vote and posses weapons.

Answer me this. Where in the second amendment does it say anything about abridging the gun ownership rights of anyone, including felons? Same thing goes for voting.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Mar 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

SteveP is a registered user.

cal the troll---good luck next time you roll through Oakland without your homies.
You can't let felons vote---once they've been in jail and had their food and health needs paid for from our bankrupt prison system, they'll want to vote Dem when they get out. Of course, if they are dumb enough to be caught committing felonies (cal), they may already be Dem voters.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm

What pray tell are "homies"?

No matter how much some folks complain, there will ALWAYS BE ILLEGALS IN THE GOOD OLE USA! HOORAY!

can we all get along?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by cal
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm


I'm not sure what a "troll" is, but I don't see anything in the second amendment or the constitution that says felons cannot posses firearms. Anyone who respects the constitution knows that is true.

I also don't know what "homies" are. Can you please explain the term?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Mar 12, 2012 at 8:43 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Cal, you live in the bay area, where many gangs operate freely and you still don't know what 'homie' means? You need to get out more.
Any since you don't spend much time reading or researching, start with this article about felons and guns, then go look un the statutes yourself: Web Link

To make it easy for you, here's apertinent excerpt: "Under federal law, people with felony convictions forfeit their right to bear arms. "

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Homies video: Web Link

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