Yesterday, July , California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the first in a package of criminal justice-reform bills seeking to improve public safety, save taxpayers money and put greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and maintaining family cohesion.
Specifically, Senate Bill 355 would end requiring innocent defendants to reimburse the courts for the cost of appointed counsel – by only charging those who are convicted.
“Under current criminal law, a low-income, homeless or impoverished person who is accused of a crime that they did not commit can still be ordered to pay the costs of a court-appointed attorney,” Sen. Holly J. Mitchell of Los Angeles said. “We are pleased to have the governor support our #EquityAndJustice reforms. We are hopeful that he will continue to be a partner as the remaining #EquityAndJustice bills make their way to his desk.
“Together we can bring compassion, reason and greater social awareness about the true costs of a criminal justice system that for too long has followed policies that created and perpetuated a cradle-to-grave prison pipeline.”
SB 355 is the one of seven bills jointly sponsored by Mitchell and Lara that mostly addresses how California’s criminal justice system treats youth and young adults.