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The Marshall Project highlights work of UnCommon Law volunteer

The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization about the U.S. criminal justice system recently featured a paper by Jeremy Isard, a UCL volunteer who assists individuals in their parole process, in their weekly newsletter. “Under the Cloak of Brain Science: Risk Assessments, Parole, and the Powerful Guise of Objectivity”  will be featured in the […]

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UnCommon Law’s work profiled by Another Look

Visit www.anotherlook.co/uncommon-law to view a newly published profile of UnCommon Law, including beautiful color photos and quotes from our Executive Director Keith Wattley and three of our clients. Thanks to Another Look for shining a light on our work and on the inspiring stories of Eddy, Ke, and Troy.

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Parole board accused of violating Butler settlement with lifers

In December 2013, the First District Court of Appeal approved a settlement in the case In re Butler, effective April 2014, requiring the Board of Parole Hearings to notify life-term prisoners of their “base term” — the sentence they could expect to serve because of the circumstances of their crime — at their first parole hearing. […]

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Appeals Court Gives New Hope to California’s “Three Strikers” Denied Relief under Prop. 36

On June 24th, in an UnCommon Law case, California’s Sixth District Court of Appeal held that the new definition of “dangerousness” established by Proposition 47 must also apply to people seeking to modify their Three Strikes life sentences under Proposition 36 (the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012).  This is a huge victory: previously, without a […]

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Court Approves Class Action Settlement over Parole Hearings!

A Federal Judge has approved a settlement giving California prisoners greater protections when being considered for parole.  On May 27, 2016, District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller, of the U.S. District Court in Sacramento gave final approval to a settlement agreement between a class of 10,000 California prisoners and the California parole board.  The lawsuit […]

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Parole boards subvert Supreme Court holding that “juvenile lifers” deserve second chances

As reported by Beth Schwartzapfel for The Marshall Project: The [Supreme Court justices] have made it clear in a series of recent rulings that “juvenile lifers,” those serving life sentences imposed when they were teenagers, must have “some meaningful opportunity to obtain” their release. But the high court has left it up to states — […]

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Women’s History Month and Prison

March is Women’s History Month.  I don’t know whether there’s a day set aside this month for incarcerated women, but maybe there should be.  Not to celebrate the institution, but to deal with it.  And to think about the unique challenges incarcerated women face.  Consider that the number of total prisoners in this country has increased […]

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East Bay Express covers broken parole process, features UnCommon Law

On January 6, 2015, the East Bay Express published an investigative piece by Sam Levin detailing the arbitrary nature of California’s parole system, the lack of accountability and fiscal waste surrounding this system, and the devastating consequences for incarcerated lifers and their families. In addition to featuring several of UnCommon Law’s clients, the article sheds light on […]

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P-CAP trains Berkeley Law students as parole advocates

The Post-Conviction Advocacy Project (P-CAP) trains Berkeley Law students to assist inmates with the parole process. They are supervised by attorney Keith Wattley of the Oakland nonprofit UnCommon Law, which works with long-term prisoners to gain their release. Because indigent prisoners often receive inadequate representation from parole board-appointed attorneys, students can play a vital role. Click […]

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California Prisoners Gain Protection from Bias in their Parole Hearings!

On September 10, 2015, a class of 10,000 California prisoners reached a tentative agreement with the California Board of Parole Hearings aimed at protecting prisoners from the improper use of psychological reports when the parole board considers whether to release them from prison.  Johnson v. Shaffer (Eastern District of California, No. 2:12 -cv-1059 KJM) was filed in […]

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