Capitol Dispatch: Same-Sex Prison Marriages, Secession and More

RFID Driver’s License Bill Falters in Assembly

What with the steady stream of revelations about the National Security Agency’s attempts to spy on United States citizens, it was perhaps poor timing for legislation that would put radio-frequency identification tags in California driver’s licenses. Wired Magazine reported this week that privacy groups successfully stalled a bill seeking to make the state’s identity cards “one of the most sophisticated identification documents in the country.”

Secession Rumblings in Siskiyou

Politicians in Siskiyou County have a beef with more than just one proposed law coming out of Sacramento. Looking to escape the tyranny of a Democratic legislature, the County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to investigate seceding from California. The long-term plan appears to be to create a new state called Jefferson along with other rural counties in Northern California and Oregon.

Same-Sex Marriage for Inmates

The chances of Jefferson becoming the 51st state anytime soon are slim, to put it mildly. But should the secessionists beat the odds and establish a new state along the shores of the Klamath River, it’s a safe bet the newly organized Jefferson Department of Corrections wouldn’t allow inmates to marry non-incarcerated, same-sex partners. The California Department of Corrections issued a memo affirming the rights of inmates to marry same-sex partners so long as they are not also behind bars, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Prison Hunger Strike Ends

If recent protests are any guide, inmates in California’s prison system are more concerned with the use of isolation cells than matrimonial rights. Deemed instruments of torture by groups like Amnesty International, the isolation cells were the chief cause of a two-month hunger strike, which ended this week. The strike started with 30,000 participants and ended Thursday with 40 still refusing solid food, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A lawyer for the inmates cited upcoming legislative hearings about prisoner complaints as evidence of a victory for the hunger-strikers.

Odd Bedfellows

A controversial type of federal incarceration united two Sacramento lawmakers from opposite political poles on Tuesday. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) joined forces with Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) to craft legislation that would prevent state agencies and the state National Guard from helping feds in cases involving military detention without charge or public trial, according to the Los Angeles Times. Donnelly, who calls himself a Tea Party Republican, told the LA Times that “America is nation based on equal treatment under the law; every individual deserves his or her day in court, regardless of the accusations.”


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