Gov. Brown signed another major reform rooted in evidence-based policy and sensible cost-effective approaches to criminal justice.
Senate Bill 1393, the Fair and Just Sentencing Reform Act, will eliminate automatic penalties that have contributed to the state’s mass incarceration crisis and failed ‘tough on crime’ policies by returning discretion in sentencing of serious felonies to judges.
SB 1393 will apply to mandatory five-year sentence enhancements, and is one of the #EquityAndJustice2018 bills carried jointly by Sens. Holly J. Mitchell and Ricardo Lara as follow-up measures to last year’s successful reforms.
“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.”
“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.”
As written, SB 1393 will restore the court’s discretion to apply sentence enhancements for prior felony convictions when a person is charged with a serious felony.
It is sponsored by 10 community and public-interest groups, including the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy and Policy; the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles; the California Coalition for Women Prisoners; Californians United for a Responsible Budget; the Drug Policy Alliance; the Women’s Foundation of California; and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Letters of support have also been received from at least 60 persons and organizations, including the office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; the Greenlining Institute; San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi; and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
SB 1393 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019.