Collateral Consequences Reentry

Hitting the Assembly Floor: Bills to Expand Access to the Political Process to People With Felony Records

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

The California Assembly will soon consider two important measures that seek to expand access to civic participation among formerly incarcerated people by eliminating two out of the thousands of restrictions — collateral consequences — that trail a felony conviction.

The first is a constitutional amendment, called the Free the Vote Act, that would, in 2020, ask voters to restore the right to vote to people on parole.

California law currently disenfranchises people convicted of felonies who are serving time in state or federal prison or who are on parole (until parole is completed).

If passed by voters, the measure, ACA 6, would open up voting rights to approximately 48,600 Californians currently ineligible to vote in elections.

The bill was authored by Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty, Shirley Weber, Rob Bonta, Lorena Gonzalez, Ash Kalra, and Sydney Kamlager-Dove.

“People on parole are our colleagues, neighbors, and family members,” Assm. McCarty said. “They work in our communities, pay taxes, send their kids to school, and strive to make California a better place for all residents.”

Empowering people on parole to vote would benefit reentry and likely reduce recidivism, according to the bill authors. “Giving people on parole the right to vote gives them a stake in their communities and a voice in the issues that impact their daily lives,” McCarty said.

In response to an earlier version of the measure, the Election Integrity Project California, Inc. slammed the idea of giving “the most fundamental and valuable of American privileges to those who have not completed making full restitution for their crimes” and who, thus, should not have the privilege “to participate as a full member” of society.

Additionally, the bill supporters’ belief that restoring voting rights before parole completion will reduce recidivism is misguided, the group said. The restrictions of parole give “the former criminal powerful reminders of what true liberty is by withholding just enough of it to incentivize further appropriate behavior so as to earn the rights just beyond their fingertips.”

California is among a small number of states that allows people on probation — but not parole — to vote. One of the results of this set-up is confusion among criminal justice system-involved folks that creates “de facto disenfranchisement,” the Brennan Center for Justice said in support of the bill.

“Few people, including election administrators, understand the difference between probation and parole,” The Brennan Center said. “And as Californians know, those distinctions are becoming increasingly opaque and confusing as new forms of supervision get created. The result is that eligible voters think that they cannot or refrain from voting out of fear that they may be breaking the law.”

(One particularly alarming example of this, is the story of Crystal Mason, a Texas mother sentenced to five years in prison for unknowingly breaking a Texas law and the terms of her supervised release by voting in the 2016 election while still under supervision.)

At the national level, local and state-level reforms have reinstated voting rights for 1.4 million Americans over the last two decades, according to a 2018 report by the Sentencing Project. Still, approximately 6 million people are barred from voting due to contact with the criminal justice system. Nearly 4.7 million of those people are not in prison, but live in a state that blocks people who are on probation or parole, or who have completed their sentence and community supervision.

Last year, a similar California initiative failed to gather enough signatures to land on the 2018 ballot. That measure would have allowed all citizens living in the state with felony convictions—even those currently in prison or on parole—to vote.

In order to pass, ACA 6, which does not go quite as far as the 2018 initiative, requires a 2/3 majority vote from lawmakers.

Ending California’s Lifetime Ban on Jury Service for People With Past Felonies

The second piece of proposed legislation, SB 310 would do away with a portion of state law that bans anyone convicted of a past felony from ever serving on a trial jury.

The bill, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), aims to “ensure that California’s trial juries better reflect the diversity” of the state, according to the bill’s Assembly Floor analysis.

Currently, as many as one out of every three black men are disenfranchised in California due to prior felony convictions. “Categorically denying” this large percentage of the population makes it far less likely that a defendant of color will be tried by a jury of his peers.

Speaking before the Senate Public Safety Committee in April, Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods said the bill would go a long way toward addressing the fact that people of color accused of crimes often must go before juries in which “no one who sits in judgment looks like [them].”

Moreover, banning jurors with past convictions blocks a considerable of the state’s population — nearly two million people — from a crucial aspect of civic engagement.

“This is a civil rights issue,” said Sen. Skinner. “Juries are the backbone of the justice system. The concept that people can have their cases heard by their peers – is a primary source of the justice system’s legitimacy.”

The ACLU has co-sponsored the bill, which is backed by a coalition of criminal justice reform advocates. “Current law for jury service eligibility dates back to a very different time in California’s history: a time during which the ideal for juries was a group comprised of “key men” from the community, a proxy for white males,” the ACLU said in support of the bill. “The exclusion of people of color from juries has its roots in pre-Civil War America.”

The bill would not open access to every single person with a felony conviction, however. People would still be prohibited from serving on a jury while on parole or probation. People required to register as a felony sex offender would also be barred from serving on a jury.

Additionally, judges, district attorneys, and defense lawyers would be able to strike a potential juror with a felony conviction from a jury pool through the standard channels.

California would not be the first state to enact such a massive reform, but would join Colorado, Illinois, Maine, and Oregon.


Image by April Sikorski: Voting line for 2008 presidential election in Brooklyn.

34 Comments

  • Voting is the duty of every free citizen. Of course, people on parole should vote. Please support ACA6.
    I’ve observed that people who were once incarcerated are much better at spotting cons and lies than the general public. They likely make better jurors and understand the laws more than people without that experience. Please also support SB310.

    • “Voting is the duty of every free citizen.”

      Parolees aren’t free and are subject to conditions that waive their rights (search and seizure, association, possession of firearms/ammo/long knifes, etc). The reality of this legislation is that legislators have nothing better to do than enact stupid laws.

  • What BS! Imagine that the child molester Jeff Epstein had lived and serving life for trafficking kids and rapping young girls. And while doing life he gets to vote on child laws? DO NOT SUPPORT THIS IDIOTIC FORM OF SELF HATRED FOR OUR KIDS! Maybe we should pass a law and have Bill Clinton in charge of White House interns!!

    • Ok and the 2 nypd idiots that raped a girl while in cuffs shouldn’t be able to vote either right? How about ur buddy kimball from lasd that had sexual intercourse with a 15 year old? Same “bs” for them right?

  • Editor’s Note:

    Dear Spookgottem (and variations on that theme),

    I’d be happy to let your comments through, but not when they’re loaded with repeated mentions of sperm, and frequent references to “nazi lasd pigs.” If you could just dial it back a bit with your language as you make your points, I’d appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

    C.

    • CF…Ur against facts but thats ok. I knew you were against them when I saw u at tge press conference after Baca got sentenced. You and him smiling and laughing together is just proof of the fakeness.

      That is what they are and you know it…But ur underlying intentions are like an intense chess game.

        • ?

          More like Herbert Asch of the Nazi Wehrmacht.

          If you haven’t met ol’ Herbert yet read “The Revolt of Gunner Asch” by Hans Helmut Kirst.

          The time is 1935 in Germany before the onset of WWII; the place is the “peacetime” German Army; and the story is about a German soldier who didn’t much like Army life.
          “Gunner” is a rank in the German army that corresponds roughly to “private” in our own military.

          Hans Helmut Kirst, the author of the book, was an officer in the German Wehrmacht & survived military duty on the Russian Front in WWII.

          My Baccalaureate is in English Literature, so I’ve been force-fed a lot of books, but this one is the one with the deepest impact on my life.

          That’s because when I got out of the Army (187th Infantry; it can be Googled–I was in it when it was a parachute unit) I picked up the book and then realized

          OMG!!! We’re both the same!!

  • Um, what a wonderful hypothetical. I’m not sure how you arrive at it from the post, but you are creative. And, you are right, the only thing worse than having Bill Clinton in charge of White House interns is having an LAPD officer in charge of little girls in the cadet program. At least with Bill, they were adults.

  • Spookfit, please be careful what you say as our porcine brethren are looking for any words that may be remotely misconstrued as a threat so that they can say they felt threaten. Its like when they say “the suspect reached for his waist…,” they unload 12 rounds and they find nothing. They may even cut a hole on their blouse and claim they were shot. Hard to believe, but I’ve heard of such things. And, do not worry about and “in person” situation, as I have yet to see a “brave man” in uniform be brave without the badge or gun. They’re quick to say gang members are cowards, but they act like the gangsters but never without the badge or gun.

    • Cf I love you for saying that…CF ur the real mvp. YOU ARE DEAD on, ok I dial it down bc they may do something by, “feeling their safety was endanger…” F’n cowards gotta be exposed asap nc thats the only way the sick law enforcement culture will change.

  • I’ve always thought, one thing pigs (porcine..lol) are good at is sniffing out and identifying trash.

    CF and his cohorts must all have a happy trail of pigs, aka hogs, sows, piglets, porkers or whatever term he can dig up following him everywhere he goes. Oh…or standing outside door while he satisfies his perverted obsession with children.

    Celeste may edit this out, but CF opens the door with his continual reference to law enforcement and criminal acts against children.

    The 1st Amendment is equally applied I hope.

    Like the old saying goes, if you want change, stop talking and go do. CF (Keyboard warrior), go join a police department or the military, try to make change from within. Show everybody how brave and bad ass you are. Oh..CF probably wouldn’t qualify on so many levels… psychological profile and criminal background.

    Just keep yapping though…. yawn.

    • Wow CF are you see what this character just wrote? Outside of the comment being the most ridiculous fuckery I have ever seen, but Im curious…

      Are the comments re: sexual crimes that cockspiracy and his la county posse untrue? He must not like it bc he has been apart some illegal, sexual situation’s…

      C’mon dont lie sweetie!!! Tell me ur story! Did ur female trainee that was struggling get signed off after slobbing on ur knob? Did u rape female inmates at crdf with the rest of ur jump out boy crimee’s. What did u do?

      CF this loser just called you a Keyboard warrior…hahahahahahahaaaaahahaa lmaoooo hahahaba. How does the lasd attract these loser’s?

      • SpunkFizz……What a fuck wade you are if you want to go gutter level. You should go back to your cellie CF and see whose the real bitch is out of the two of you. I can see by your expansive vocabulary, it’s real hard for you to string together anything other than four letter words to get your week points across.

        You just keep on polishing those knobs, and being the good little bitch that your know you are.

  • Conspiracy, now, now, please be more couth. I would not want Celeste to take your post down. Keep in mind that other people are reading this. You are not out in the street talking to some black or brown kid that talked back to you.

    First, there is no first amendment right here. I know you think you know the law, but the 1st amendment applies to government censorship. Please stick to vehicle code violations and not constitutional law. I have tried to explain this to you but either you do not understand or I am doing a poor job at it. Celeste can do as she wishes with this site. Sometimes she removes my posts, and it is her right. The first amendment, on the other hand, applies, for example, to police officers. That is why you cannot arrest a kid who calls you a pig. You have to take it, lest you violate their first amendment rights.

    Second, I did not like how the street sweeper left my street the other day, but I will not sign up to be one just because I think they did a poor job and I could do better. Same with being a police officer. Given that I pay your salary, I will say something when I think your ilk have done wrong, whether that is shooting people in the back, molesting little girls or pretending to be shot. And, if those fine examples of heroism can make it on the force, surely I can, at least the psych part. I feel even more confident about the psychical part of the exam given how portly some officers are. I know I can outrun them.

  • CF….you make being stupid appear so easy and effortless, and elevate it to a true art form. What crap you doth spew to try so vary hard and support a straw phantom argument. Just because you say it, write it and believe it yourself doesn’t make it reality for the the rest of the human race that is grounded in the principles of law, order, common sense, morality and fairness.

    I’m sure you have a case of participation trophies and have lived (and still do live) a life of self-congratulation, filled with praises from your mommy, whose your biggest fan I’m sure, as you both brush each other’s hour.

    Your pathetic non the less. I have utmost respect for those those folks who serve in our police, fire, first responder and military. These folks have a sense of duty and do a job not everyone can or will ever do. They put their lives at risk to keep our civilized society in order and moving ahead, enabling losers like you to say the wild scheiss you do.

    Luckily dumas’s like yourself are a minority and are either locked up in a prison or jail where you belong.

  • Uh oh CF the loser just brought ur Mom into it…..hahaha Cf remember those loser’s high school that just needed a group to be apart of, lol well u get the point

  • Cuntspiracy, mon amie, no need to get all flustered. We are merely having an exchange. And, you are correct, just because I say it does not make it so, but I have yet to see what part you disagree with. The part of the 1st amendment not applying to Celeste’s blog. It does not. You have no first amendment right to post anything on this site, and neither do I. Stick to driving around a patrol car looking for black men in cars with broken taillights.

    Or, do you disagree with my comment about the police force hiring people that turn out to child molesters, commit fraud, make false reports about being shot, get caught driving drunk, get busted having sex in cars, I can go on. Those have actually happened, all of those and then some. Please educate me if you think I am wrong.

    Finally, people like me are not a minority. That is why you regularly have to deal with people calling you out from behind the curtain of fake heroism that you hide behind. That is why in the street a kid calls you a pig or in court when you give your testimony a lawyer calls you a liar, or the people demanding to see records on the crooked cops, of which, for all I know, may be one. So, no, people like are not the minority.

    Let us move on. Until your next racist post, take care.

  • Cuntspiracy aaahahahabaha lmaooooo….cf u r the goat!!!

    CF…This character has nothing of logic to spew. Everything u say is correct and Im glad u finally said it.

    Cunt(spiracy)…U should really face facts. Pigs (cops) lol are the most hated ppl on the planet. U couldn’t kick it w the winners. So u thought the pigs were heroes and would have to accept u bc u probably met the minimum standards of joining. Hooray champ! You should be so proud!!!! hahahahahahahahaha

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