More articles and references and credits
UNION Campaign to stop SB 40 2007, an unconstitutional sentencing law
Note: SB 40 was signed into law on March 30, 2007 in spite of it's unconstitutionality by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
|This is the link to the Supreme Court Cunningham case that decided California has been unconstitutionally sentencing prisoners for 30 years
This is the link to an article in American Chronicle by Dr. B. Cayenne Bird on March 21 that contains the graphic prepared by San Francisco Public Defender to illustrate that SB 40 will cost at least $195 million to implement. His full letter to the Committee detailing policy also appears on this page. The article appeared in 26 publications across America which alerted the other news media what was taking place - the loss of our 6th Amendment rights to trial by jury for two years.
SB40 Is Not a Prison Sentencing Fix Kill this Bill Now!
This was a short but hardhitting campaign with very little time to react to the call to action. We were in disbelief at first that Senator Romero would be capable of "fixing" the Supreme Court Ruling with yet another unconstitutional law. This was actually the first article of beginning March 11, 2007 of our Oppose SB 40 Campaign when this article appeared in all the subsidiary magazines of American Chronicle by Dr. B. Cayenne Bird. We were short of trained activists who really understood what was happening to attend the hearings. San Francisco Public Defender attended in opposition both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the Appropriations Committee along with the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the Public Defender's Association and Dr. Bird testified on behalf of the families of prisoners for the UNION. No other opposition was present!
Say NO to SB40 - A sidestep that takes away prisoners' hope
In a surprising move after all our pressure on the Senate and Assembly from published articles and letters to the editor, a special session was held to place a hold on bills that "might swell prisons."
Nothing on the table for this session up for a vote will swell prisons like SB 40, so it was rather hypocritical but it lessened our battles. The prisons face a federal takeover on May 15, 2007 and the legislators simply did not want to retry people and deal with the sentencing problems for another two years. This article appeared in the Sacramento Bee the day of the vote. The UNION families rushed out to post to others what was really taking place immediately at the bottom of this article.
Hold placed on bills that might swell prisons
By Judy Lin - Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A4
Saying they don't want to make a bad situation worse, Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday imposed a nine-month moratorium on all bills that they said would aggravate California's overcrowded prison population.
Sen. Gloria Romero, who chairs the Senate Public Safety Committee, has placed a hold on any legislation that imposes new crimes or lengthens criminal sentences while the state grapples with a prison population about twice the designed capacity.
Under the new policy, staff estimated that dozens of Senate bills and more from the Assembly will not be taken up until January.
Romero, D-Los Angeles, said she wants to show judges considering imposing a prison population cap that the Legislature isn't overburdening a system that's already struggling to find beds for 172,000 inmates. Last year, the federal court appointed a receiver to take over health care services at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"We would be going forth in the dark if we continue to let bills fly out of committee," Romero said. "This is public safety, and we all want to be tough on crime. But how tough do we look when our own system is rendered unconstitutional? And how tough do we look when our jails and prisons may at some point have to open to let out individuals?"
Romero's move immediately drew harsh criticism from Republicans who are pushing to build more prisons. They accused Romero of sending the wrong message to criminals.
Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, said the move tells criminals they should "continue to spread gang crime; continue to plague our communities with meth; continue to sexually prey on our children."
Already the moratorium is affecting the number of bills clearing the Senate committee. Five of the seven bills heard in committee Tuesday were affected by the new policy, known as the Receivership/Overcrowding Crisis Aggravation factor, or ROCA.
One of the bills held was written by Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Temecula. His Senate Bill 479 seeks to add five years in prison for anyone who impersonates a law enforcement officer during the course of a kidnapping or sexual assault.
"I think the public should be very concerned that those who control this Legislature want to have criminals out roaming the streets," Hollingsworth said.
It is already against the law to impersonate a police officer. Such convictions carry a maximum of three years in prison.
Romero said bills that seek to reduce prison population will not be affected.
UNION members who worked extra hard on this campaign are owed a debt of gratitude by 54,000 families related to a prisoner rotting in prison under unconstitutional sentences. Alexis, Nancy, Sue, Jill, Fred, Patty, Karen, mesha and others spent many hours faxing, calling, writing to editors.
American Chronicle at americanchronicle.com
California Progress Report at californiaprogressreport.com
Associated Press journalist Don Thompson
The Sacramento Bee at www.sacbee.com
are very much appreciated for serving the public's right to know on short notice and giving voice to the voiceless as well as publishing SF Public Defender's articles as well as my own. The Capitol Press Corps members are shunned if they really come out strong against what the legislators are doing against public interest but when they publish your letters to editors that gets the story out with them getting kicked out. It's a sad state of affairs in my opinion when journalists are controlled in this manner and basically banned from the prisons to cover up wrongdoing.
6500 people willing to work and spend a little money can force changes in the law through the initiative process. Get active
Rev. B. Cayenne Bird
P.O. Box 340371
Sacramento, Ca. 95834