Passed in 1994, California’s “three strikes” law is the nation’s harshest sentencing law.As Mother Jones reports, “Designed to imprison for life anyone who commits three violent crimes, the law has inadvertently resulted in the incarceration of a lot relatively harmless people, for a long time and at great public expense. Crimes that have earned people life sentences: Stealing a dollar in loose change from a car, breaking into a soup kitchen to steal food, stealing a jack from the open window of a tow truck, and even stealing two pairs of children’s shoes from Ross Dress for Less. The law is one reason that California’s prison system is dangerously, and unconstitutionally, overcrowded. More than 4,000 people in the prison system are serving life sentences for non-violent crimes.
“In 2012, with corrections costs consuming ever more of the state budget, the voters in the state had had enough, and they approved a reform measure that would spring many of these low-level offenders from a lifetime of costly confinement. By August of last year, more than 1,000 inmates had their life sentences changed and were released; recidivisim rates for this group has also been extremely low. But further progress in the reform effort is being stymied by one thorny problem: Nearly half of the inmates serving time in California prisons suffer from a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. So far, judges have been reluctant to let these folks out of their life sentences.
“A new report from Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes project notes that the number of mentally ill prisoners denied relief from a life sentence is three times larger than those without a brain disease. The disparity largely stems from the fact that judges and juries tend to give people with brain diseases much harsher sentences to begin with. Continue reading “Three-strikes and mental illness”
Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that will allow children in California to have more than two legal parents, a measure opposed by some conservative groups as an attack on the traditional family, the Los Angeles Times reports
“Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said he authored the measure to address the changes in family structure in California, including situations in which same-sex couples have a child with an opposite-sex biological parent.
“The law will allow the courts to recognize three or more legal parents so that custody and financial responsibility can be shared by all those involved in raising a child, Leno said.
“Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them,” Leno said. “It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent.”
“The bill was partially a reaction to a 2011 court decision involving a lesbian couple that briefly ended their relationship, according to Leno’s office. One of the women was impregnated by a man before the women resumed their relationship. A fight broke out, putting one of the women in the hospital and the other in jail, but the daughter was sent to foster care because her biological father did not have parental rights.
“Everyone who places the interests of children first and realizes that judges shouldn’t be forced to rule in ways that hurt children should cheer this bill becoming law,” said Ed Howard, senior counsel for the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law.
“SB 274 was opposed by advocates for traditional families, including Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, who said Friday he was disappointed by the governor’s action.
“This is in the long run going to be a mistake,” Dacus said. “The ones who are going to pay the price are not the activists, but it’s going to be children, who will see greater conflict and indecision over matters involving their well-being.” Dacus said having more than two legal parents will create the potential for greater conflict over what is best for a child and result in more complicated court fights.
“Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, and his representatives did not return calls for comment on what changed his mind.”
More at: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-brown-bills-parents-20131005,0,7226241.story?track=rss
As debates about marriage equality continue in nations around the world, science is changing the terms of the debate. Remember that behind much of the argument for the “one-man/one-woman” stance is that “God” established such “natural” pairings for breeding purposes. Hence heterosexual unions are deemed pre-ordained and above government––even though divorce statistics reveal that most conventional marriages fall apart. In fact, according to current statistics the most common “family” unit in the U.S is now a single person living alone.
Now the traditional breeding paradigm faces a new threat. Scientists in Oregon have created embryos with genes from one man and two women. Continue reading “And now, the three-parent embryo”