RBGG’s Gay Crosthwait Grunfeld and Marc J. Shinn-Krantz, together with the Prison Law Office’s Margot Mendelson and Jacob Hutt, submitted a letter to the California Legislature urging action to ban the state’s ongoing use of involuntary servitude pursuant to loopholes in the state and federal constitutions allowing those practices as punishment for crime.

Shinn-Krantz explains:  “If the Legislature passes ACA 8 by June 27, then California’s voters will have the opportunity at the November 5 ballot to ban slavery and involuntary servitude without exception.”

Under current laws implementing this constitutional loophole, the letter explains:  “California demands that ‘every able-bodied prisoner’ shall work ‘as many hours of faithful labor in each day and every day during his or her term of imprisonment’ as required by CDCR rules and regulations.  Cal. Penal Code § 2700.  CDCR punishes people who refuse to work by placing them in ‘Privilege Group C’ and denying them good conduct credits, thereby lengthening the amount of time they remain in prison.  CDCR also sharply curtails ‘privileges’ for people who do not work, limiting their family visits, telephone calls, recreation, entertainment, outdoor exercise, and canteen (food and sundries) access.”

The letter urges the Legislature to reform those laws:  “Passing ACA 8 is a necessary first step toward reforming California’s broken prison system.  We also need a statutory and regulatory framework to implement the constitutional language.  While California has ceded leadership on this issue to the seven states that already closed their constitutional slavery loopholes in recent years, California can become a leader by enacting a strong companion bill to ACA 8.”

Read the full letter here

In 2022, Grunfeld and Shinn-Krantz previously wrote to the legislature and published an article in the Daily Journal urging action on the predecessor bill to ACA 8 (ACA 3).  Read the Daily Journal article here.