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California restores prisoner voting rights

[JURIST] The State of California has decided not to appeal a December 21st decision [text, PDF] of the California 1st District Court of Appeal [official website] restoring voting rights [JURIST news archive] to approximately 100,000 inmates serving a year or less for felony convictions in local jails. The case, filed by the League of Women Voters of California [advocacy website] and other voter and prisoner right interest groups, challenged a December 2005 interpretation of Art. 2 Sec. 4 of the California Constitution [text] by Secretary of State Bruce McPhearson [official website] maintaining that those serving short term sentences for felonies in county jails were not eligible to vote.

The court’s decision relied on Section 17 of the California Penal Code [text], which defines felonies and misdemeanors. When a person is sent to a local jail, typically for confinement as a condition of probation, they are not actually convicted of a felony, which would allow their voting rights to be stripped. AP has more.

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