|Photo by jar (away).|
By NICK CAHILL
A California prison program that lets inmates reunite with their families and complete their sentence in a transitional facility is unconstitutional because it excludes men, prisoners claim in court.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation allows women to apply for the Alternative Custody Program, to finish their sentence in a residential home or drug treatment facility.
Originally, the program, established in 2010, allowed male inmates who are "primary caregivers of dependent children" the chance to apply.
But in 2013, the state amended the program to exclude male inmates, which plaintiff inmates Michael Berman and Darrell Stapp call unconstitutional in their July 14 federal complaint.
"This lawsuit is about a really gross injustice," their attorney Gay Crosthwait Grunfeld told Courthouse News. "Only women can apply, and that just violates every law there is."
Both plaintiffs are scheduled for early release in the summer of 2016.
"That may seem soon, but if you're in prison that's a long time," Grunfeld said. "We have two people who are sitting in prison who have literally been told, 'You cannot apply for this program; you're a man.'"