Proposed ballot measure would let California parolees vote

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

Photo credit: Michael Coghlan via Flickr

Tens of thousands of parolees would be allowed to vote under a state constitutional amendment proposed Monday by California?s secretary of state and Democratic lawmakers who called it the next civil rights issue.

The proposal intended for the 2020 ballot would help nearly 50,000 felons who have served their time adjust to being back in the community, said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and other advocates. Parolees currently are prohibited from registering to vote in local, state or federal elections.

California is one of several states that have or are considering expanding voting rights for felons. The proposal would include murderers, rapists and others convicted of violent crimes. It would not affect criminals until they are released from custody, unlike in some other states.

The proposal continues California?s pattern in recent years of reducing sentences and increasing earlier releases from prison, said Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance. …

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More California inmates are getting a second chance as parole board enters new era of discretion

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

An Alameda County probation report details facts that Kao Saelee can?t change: He was 17 and armed with a sawed-off shotgun when he and three friends opened fire on a group of teens they believed belonged to a rival Oakland gang.

The spray of bullets instead struck Tsee Yorn and San Fou Saechao, both 13. It killed 7-year-old Sausio Saephan, a second-grader at nearby Garfield Elementary School who had tagged along with his older brother and was shot in the neck.

For years, members of the State Board of Parole Hearings could ? and often would ? deny prisoners early release based on their past, focusing solely on their criminal offense rather than whether or not they?d pose a safety risk in the future.

To inmates, it seemed an unspoken rule: Let no one out.

Now, the board has entered a new era, empowered to grant more offenders a chance at parole after a decade’s worth of court decisions and state laws that have broadened its discretion. With the greater legal flexibility, Gov.?Jerry Brown?has put the?commission?of 14 men and women at the front line of his effort to reduce the prison population and to focus more on rehabilitation rather than relying solely on punishment. …

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