Final Round-up of Gov. Brown’s Bill Activity, Statistics and Effects of Parents Behind Bars…and MoreOctober 2nd, 2012 by Taylor Walker
FOUR ADDITIONAL VERY IMPORTANT BILLS (VIBs) THAT GOVERNOR BROWN ACTED ON AT THE VERY LAST MINUTE
This weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown acted on over one hundred pieces of legislation. Here’s what he did with some of the bills WitnessLA has been following: (WitnessLA posted Monday on the fate of SB9 and the sunshine law.)
Gov. Brown vetoed the TRUST Act, a crucial immigration bill, but signed the immigrant driver bill.
PBS’ Adrian Florido has the story. Here’s a clip:
The TRUST Act was passed by the state legislature in August and would have prohibited local police who arrest an illegal immigrant from holding that person for possible deportation at the request of federal immigration officials.
It would have made an exception for people who commit serious crimes.
The bill’s aim was to make it harder for federal immigration agents to use local police to help them deport people. Its supporters said it was needed to ensure that immigrant communities did not begin fearing police, as they have in states like Arizona, but it was opposed by federal immigration officials and many local sheriffs.
At the same time the governor vetoed the TRUST Act, he signed into law Assembly Bill 2189, the driver’s license bill. Undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and meet other requirements, like schooling or military service, will qualify for a stay from deportation and work permits under the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The bill to grant them driver’s licenses will make transportation to and from their newly acquired jobs easier.
Brown also signed a bill making California the first state to ban gay conversion therapy for kids, dubbing it “quackery.” (Way to go, Jerry!)
San Jose Mercury has the AP story. Here’s a clip:
Effective Jan. 1, mental health practitioners are prohibited from performing sexual orientation change efforts — known as reparative or conversion therapy — for anyone under 18.
The therapies “have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery,” Brown said in a statement.
Mainstream associations representing psychiatrists and psychologists have dismissed reparative therapy in recent decades. A number of mental health associations in California — including the state’s Board of Behavorial Sciences, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the California Psychological Association — supported the legislation.
But some organizations and ministries continue to use counseling and prayer to try to help conflicted Christians rid themselves of unwanted homosexual inclinations. Gay rights activists have said the damage they inflict on individuals can be deep and lasting and can put youth at higher risk of depression and suicide.
“We’re grateful to Gov. Brown for standing with California’s children,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement. “LGBT youth will now be protected from a practice that has not only been debunked as junk science, but has been proven to have drastically negative effects on their well-being.”
A bill that safeguards kids from being charged illegal educational fees also received Jerry’s stamp of approval.
KPCC’s Tami Abdollah has more on AB1575. Here’s a clip:
The American Civil Liberties Union of California and the law firm Morrison & Foerster announced Monday that in response to the new law they will dismiss their class action lawsuit, Doe vs. State of California, filed two years ago. The suit alleged that the imposition of such fees violated the California Constitution, which has provided for “free school” since 1879.
The lawsuit was based on an online investigation the ACLU conducted during August 2010. It found that at least 32 schools throughout California required students to pay for educational materials. [You can read WitnessLA's 2010 post about this ACLU lawsuit here.]
The suit alleges that requiring students to pay discriminates against lower-income children and results in an unfair system that favors wealth.
“There are budget problems in the state and it’s having problems ensuring schools get the money they need [but] you can’t pass that cost along to school children and their families,” said David Sapp, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. “In tough budget times, it’s tough budget times for families as well,” said Sapp.
KIDS WITH PARENTS BEHIND BARS AND THE “COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES”
A new publication from the Sentencing Project presents crucial data on incarcerated parents and their children. (We realize that the Sentencing Project was unable to obtain figures past 2007, but the incarceration numbers have only gone higher. The effects of incarceration on America’s kids is a very under-reported issue that affects our communities in a significant way.)
Here’s a clip from the fact sheet:
• The number of fathers in prison increased 76% and the number of mothers in prison increased 122%
between 1991 and 2007.
• In 2007, 1.7 million children had a parent in prison on any given day.
• The number of children with parents in prison increased 80% between 1991 and 2007.
• 1 in 15 black children, 1 in 42 Latino children, and 1 in 111 white children had a parent in prison in 2007.
EXECUTION HALTED FOR TERRY WILLIAMS
A Pennsylvania judge stayed death row inmate Terrence William’s execution and vacated his sentence Friday. (We’ve been following the stories by the Atlantic’s Andrew Cohen on Terry Williams because they point beyond themselves to yet another view of the problems with the death penalty. Go here and here for the back story.)
Andrew Cohen has the most recent developments in Terry William’s story. Here’s how it opens:
Twenty-six years after the fact, too late but just in time, a measure of justice finally found Terry Williams on Friday when a Pennsylvania judge, a former prosecutor, stayed his October 3 execution and vacated a death sentence that had been unfairly imposed upon him in 1986. No reasonable review of Williams’ case — no evaluation of the evidence, no respect for his trial jurors or the victim’s widow, no fealty to the Sixth Amendment’s fair trial guarantees — can sustain, in law or fact, the imposition of capital punishment here.
And yet today, seeking to defend an indefensible verdict, unapologetic about the misconduct of his predecessor, impervious to the dynamics of child sex abuse cases, tone-deaf to local politics and morality in the Age of Sandusky, unrepentant about misstatements to the state’s parole board, Williams’ prosecutor pushes on. I have been covering capital cases like this for 15 years and I can rarely remember an instance where a district attorney fought so willfully for so long for the right to do an injustice. It’s a risible offense.
In 1984, Williams savagely murdered a man named Amos Norwood. No one disputes that. At Williams’ 1986 trial, however, prosecutors had evidence that Norwood was a sexual predator — a man who preyed upon boys, including Williams himself. But prosecutors did not disclose this evidence to Williams’ lawyers even though they have an obligation to do so under the United States Supreme Court’s Brady v. Maryland precedent. Instead, the district attorney portrayed Norwood as an innocent victim of Williams’ evil mind. The state cheated.
Read on, as the entirety of Andrew Cohen’s article is worthwhile. Here’s one more clip from near the end we thought you shouldn’t miss:
But even this is not good enough for prosecutor Williams. He immediately appealed Judge Sarmina’s ruling. Want to know why more and more Americans are skeptical of the death penalty, why the constitutional guarantees of due process and fair trials so often go unmet? It’s because of cases like this one, where prosecutors cheat at trial and where their successors, decades later, cannot then admit, to themselves or the world, that such behavior undercuts confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the criminal justice system.
Photo taken from Sutter Brown’s facebook page.