SACRAMENTO — Backed by prison officials and correctional officers, a state Senate committee Monday approved a bill repealing the "prisoners bill of rights" that grants inmates several privileges, including conjugal visits and the right to receive hard-core pornographic and racist writings.
The bill by Sen. Robert Presley (D-Riverside) would give inmates only the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. They still could have family visits and receive mail, but authorities could limit access to some magazines and prohibit private visits between husbands and wives.
The Legislature passed the "prisoners bill of rights" in 1975. It was a high point in the prisoners rights movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. The statute, which is part of the state Penal Code, gives prisoners the right to marry, bring civil lawsuits, make wills and create powers of attorney. Presley said his bill is not intended to remove those rights.
Corrections Director James Gomez said the statute needs to be changed. "It's fundamentally flawed," he said. "There ought to be a prisoners bill of responsibilities."