Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wednesday Must Reads: State Prisons Agree to Cut Use of Solitary; Aid-in-Dying Bill Passes Assembly Test

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 9:39 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

click to enlarge Pelican Bay State Prison.
  • Pelican Bay State Prison.
1. California prison officials agreed to drastically restrict the use of solitary confinement in a deal that stemmed from a lawsuit filed by prisoners and a series of hunger strikes at state lockups, the Chron$ reports. For decades, California had been putting inmates in isolated, windowless cells merely for “gang affiliation,” which was often based on a prisoner’s tattoos or the letters or books he or she received. Inmates would then spend years or decades in isolation — a practice that can cause serious mental health issues. Under the settlement deal, “isolation cells will be reserved for those guilty of assaults, weapons possession, drug dealing and other serious crimes while in prison.” The deal will result in about 1,800 inmates returning to the general population.

2. Legislation that would allow doctors in California help terminally ill patients end their lives passed a key Assembly committee on a bipartisan vote, with Republicans backing it for the first time after the author of the bill agreed to amend it, the SacBee$ reports. The amendment would require reaffirmation of the patient’s consent to receiving life-ending drugs within 48 hours of a physician administering them.


3. Uber’s business model took a serious blow yesterday when a federal judge ruled that drivers could sue the company in a class-action case so as to be considered employees rather than independent contractors, the Mercury News$ reports. Uber and other on-demand companies base their businesses on being able to forgo having to pay market wages and benefits to workers.

4. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that raises the fee to collect signatures for a statewide ballot initiative from $200 to $2,000 in an attempt to discourage frivolous and hateful campaigns — like the one earlier this year that sought to allow the killing of gays and lesbians, the Chron reports.

5. And PG&E has asked state regulators to allow it to collect an additional $2.7 billion from customers in the next three years to pay for technology upgrades and better maintenance, the Chron$ reports. 

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