Page One

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday November 28, 2000

Post Proposition 36: what will happen to the incarcerated? 




Now that two-thirds of the California electorate has mandated treatment rather than a sentence of incarceration for a first or second conviction for illegal drug possession and/or usage one must ask: What now happens to those already incarcerated solely for illegal drug possession and/or usage? 


As written, the U.S. Constitution forbade all ex-post facto law.  


That stricture was early wiped out for civil law, but it still applies to criminal law. However, unless I am ill-informed, we shall now have “ex-post facto punishment” in a “Catch-22” situation somewhat analogous to that of death-row innocents who cannot hope to save themselves, because DNA tests are in applicable to their cases or necessary evidence has been destroyed. 


Must those now rotting in jails and prisons in California solely for first and second-time illegal drug usage and/or possession secure lawyers and put through appeals for their release?  


Can the courts that sentenced them order their immediate release, (If so, in many cases would they?) or will Governor Davis have to do the right thing and sign a blanket pardon? 


Clarification in your pages would be appreciated.  


Judith Segard Hunt