Day One of our conference went by smoothly and raised a variety of important issues for discussion. On the introductory panel, Jonathan Simon and I tried to offer grand narratives to explain what has happened since the original Plata v. Schwarzenegger decision. I told the story of humonetarianism, which should be fairly familiar to readers of this blog. Jonathan focused on the human rights and dignity aspect of incarceration reform, arguing that the term “realignment” has a quasi-chiropractic sense to it: We “tweak” something that is broken to “fix” it, when in fact that unknowns abound. Without a deeper understanding of the humanity of fellow human beings, no progress will be made in prisons.

On the second panel, we heard from proponents and opponents of Props 34 and 36 about the aftermath of the election. Par for the course of living in the Bay Area is that one is often surrounded by likeminded people and not much intellectual, deep interaction occurs across political divides. In that respect, I found the panel fascinating. Jeanne Woodford and McGregor Scott are obviously on two opposite sides of the political map, as are Michael Romano and Marc Klaas. Nonetheless, they had great respect for each other and appreciation for the finer points of their opponents’ arguments. They also knowledgeably engaged with Drew Soderborg’s masterful analysis of the financial impact of the two propositions. I wish all California politics were run with this much insight and nuance.

More highlights coming up tomorrow: Health care after Plata, realignment in the courts and in the counties, reentry, and juvenile justice. Please plan on joining us!

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