At issue in this case are 42,000 low-level felons – offenders now treated differently under Gov. Jerry Brown’s criminal justice realignment. That’s the program where non-serious, non-violent, non-sex offenders serve their sentences in county jails, not state prisons.
When they’re released, they become the responsibility of county probation departments, not state parole agents. And in late 2011, just as realignment was getting off the ground, Secretary of State Debra Bowen told county elections officials not to allow those released offenders to vote – her rationale being that they should be treated the same as they were before realignment.
Now, Alameda County Judge Evilio Grillo is overturning Bowen’s decision. The judge says that in passing realignment, the legislature intended the program to help reintegrate the low-level felons into society – and that should include the right to vote.