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Legislative update: proposed California criminal justice policy, June 2013

The California State Assembly

The California State Assembly

Photo Xavier de Jauréguiberry l flickr creative commons

2013 is becoming a pivotal year for criminal justice policy in California. The state continues to struggle with Realignment, budget deficits, and prison overcrowding. Given these circumstances, advocates and state legislators have introduced policies of varying intent.

On May 31, California ended the first phase of the 2013 legislative cycle. This was the final day for the California Assembly and Senate to pass legislation introduced in each respective body. We now have a better sense of the legislative landscape for this year.

Juvenile Justice

AB 915: (Jones-Sawyer), which CJCJ proudly cosponsored with Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, would have taken 75% of the cost-savings from the state’s shrinking Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) and reinvested this in county-level model programs and rehabilitative services. Unfortunately, AB 915 was held on suspense in Appropriations and therefore did not go for a floor vote in the Assembly. SB 61 (Yee) seeks to minimize the use of solitary confinement against youth held at state or local juvenile facilities. The bill would limit youth from being held in solitary confinement for more than a specified time. SB 61 passed out of the Senate on May 29 and will now be heard by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Education

AB 420 (Dickinson) addresses the overreliance of willful defiance by school administrators. The bill mandates that willful defiance can only be used to suspend a student after the third such consecutive offense and not as a reason for expulsion. AB 420 successfully passed out of the Senate on May 29 and now will go before the Assembly Public Safety Committee. AB 549 (Jones-Sawyer) requires that school safety plans specify the roles of mental health staff, police, and others on school facilities; 77 out of 80 total Assemblymembers voted in favor of AB 549 and it now goes before the Senate Education Committee.

Reentry

AB 149 (Weber) intends to expand voting rights information for eligible justice-involved individuals, while AB 938 (Weber) seeks to ensure that individuals subject to Realignment are still eligible to vote. Both items successfully passed out of the Assembly floor and now go to the Senate. AB 218 (Dickinson) would prohibit local and state agencies from asking applicants about previous criminal convictions unless the employer finds the applicant has met the preliminary qualifications for the position. This bill successfully passed out of the Assembly and now goes before the Senate.

Sentencing

Sentencing reform is increasingly necessary in a post-Realignment California. SB 260 (Hancock) allows people who were tried and sentenced as adults for crimes committed as juveniles to petition for a re-sentencing hearing after serving 10 years in prison. SB 260 passed out of the Senate and is now before the Assembly. Finally, SB 649 (Leno) would allow the prosecutor to charge possession of a small amount of illicit drugs as either a felony or misdemeanor. This bill passed out of the Senate and now goes to the Assembly.

All of these bills are important for improving California’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. As the Legislature enters this new cycle, CJCJ encourages you to contact your state Assemblymember and Senator to voice your support today.

All of these bills are important for improving California’s criminal and juvenile justice systems. As the Legislature enters this new cycle, CJCJ encourages you to contact your state Assemblymember and Senator to voice your support today.

Keywords: Brian Goldstein, California, legislation, state policy

Posted in Blog, Political Landscape

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