SACRAMENTO – A key Assembly policy committee today approved three measures in a package of sweeping reforms of how California’s criminal justice system treats youths and young adults.
The bills approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee are part of the #EquityAndJustice package jointly authored by Sens. Holly J. Mitchell and Ricardo Lara. The two Los Angeles-area Democrats proposed the measures as part of major justice reforms that put greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and maintaining family cohesion.
Senate Bill 1050 would provide services and support for exonerated people after prison, including healthcare, work training and updating exoneree records to reflect their wrongful convictions. The bill won unanimous support from the Public Safety Committee after being approved 38-0 by the Senate.
“Exonerees deserve better then to be thrown out with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said Lara. “SB 1050 is a common sense measure to provide comprehensive resources and support to people who have been wronged by our justice system.”
Senate Bill 439 sets age 12 as the minimum age for prosecution.
“All we are saying is children under 12 deserve to be treated differently,” Mitchell said after the vote. “We are not denying that some children need some level of intervention. If we are going to end the cradle to prison pipeline, we have to start with our youngest Californians.”
Senate Bill 1393, the Fair and Just Sentencing Reform Act, would eliminate automatic penalties that have contributed to the state’s mass incarceration crisis and failed policies by returning discretion in sentencing of serious felonies to judges. SB 1393 would apply to mandatory five-year sentence enhancements.
“Harsh penalties and growing jail populations have failed to reduce crime, but they have had a devastating impact on a generation of young black and Latino men,” Lara said. “Incarcerating someone for extra years without regard for the facts of their case does not serve the interest of justice or rehabilitation.”
“Mass incarceration is a massive moral failure and policy failure,” Mitchell said. “It’s a moral failure because we now know that it is injurious to families and to the economies of low-income communities. We all value, respect and want communities that are safe. This will help us move in a strategic, smart way to help an overburdened, high-cost, criminal justice system.”
SB 439, SB 1050 and SB 1393 now go to the Committee on Appropriations. A hearing date has not yet been set.
The other measures supported this year by Lara and Mitchell are:
Ensures that youth ages 14 and 15 who commit crimes get the services and help they need by prohibiting them from being tried as adults and keeping them in the juvenile justice system. Status: Awaiting review by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
This proposal would repeal the 1-year sentence enhancement for felony convictions Status: Failed passage in the Senate.
Sen. Ricardo Lara is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and was first elected to the Legislature in 2010. He represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 33, which includes Long Beach and the Southeast Los Angeles cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, Signal Hill, South Gate, and much of Los Angeles. More at www.senate.ca.gov/lara
Sen. Holly J. Mitchell is chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. A member of the Legislature for more than six years, she represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 30, which includes Culver City and much of Los Angeles. See a map of Mitchell’s district that includes a demographic breakdown of its residents and more HERE. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/Mitchell