The Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws (ACSOL) filed a lawsuit today challenging the early release plans of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The agency plans to begin releasing from prison on July 1 anyone convicted of a non-violent offense who has a release date no later than December 31. The agency’s plans, however, exclude anyone required to register as a sex offender.
According to a press release issued by CDCR, prisoners will be released early in order to reduce the possibility of their infection by COVID-19. The threat of infection and death from COVID-19 is especially acute in prisons where social distancing, face coverings, hygiene and medical care are difficult to achieve and may be nonexistent.
“The categorical exclusion of all registrants from CDCR’s early release plans is irrational, arbitrary, an abuse of discretion, and serves merely to reflect CDCR’s apparent judgment that the lives of registrants are less important than those of other incarcerated persons,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci.
According to today’s lawsuit, CDCR’s plans constitute an abuse of discretion and violate the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. The lawsuit requests that the court issue a writ of mandate directing Respondent to render persons required to register as a sex offender eligible for early release from incarceration on the same terms as other incarcerated persons.
Today’s lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and is the eighth COVID-19 legal challenge prepared by ACSOL. Of the remaining seven challenges, six were filed in state courts including the California Supreme Court and one was filed in federal district court.