Urge Gov. Brown’s Signature on Key Reform Bills

jerry brownAs Brian Goldstein reports, criminal justice reformers were able to win passage of some very important bills, but these pieces still require Gov. Brown’s signature in order to become law.

Here are three to write the governor about:

  • AB 218 – This bans the “box” that people with felony conviction records must check on many employment forms. The bill applies to governmental agencies – excluding those that serve the very young, the very old, and the handicapped. It still permits background checks but removes the hurdle that makes it almost impossible for formerly incarcerated persons to get employment.
  • SB 260 – An important juvenile justice breakthrough. California prisons house 6,500 people whose crime was committed before they were 18 years old. Half face life sentences. Science knows that juvenile brains are less developed. This bill would permit people who committed serious crimes as juveniles get a chance at re-sentencing if they show motivation to learn and change.
  • SB 649 – This allows prosecutors to charge simple possession of narcotics as a misdemeanor offense instead of a felony. Offenses that can be charged either way are called “wobblers.” Possession of the powerful drug methamphetamine is already a “wobbler” in California. The main point is that locking up people with addictions is irrational – and extremely costly.

And as long as your communicating with Gov. Brown, why not also urge him to sign the TRUST Act? Brown vetoed an earlier version of the TRUST Act last year, but the new bill more clearly defines what constitutes “serious crimes.” The legislation restricts local police from detaining undocumented immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities unless serious crimes were committed.

peter laarman

Here is Gov. Brown’s contact information:

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

Peter Laarman
Justice Not Jails

About Peter Laarman

Rev. Peter Laarman serves on the Justice Not Jails steering committee. He formerly directed Progressive Christians Uniting, the LA-based network of activist individuals and congregations that first launched Justice Not Jails in 2012 as a multifaith initiative. He served as the senior minister of New York’s Judson Memorial Church from 1994 to 2004. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Peter spent 15 years as a labor movement strategist and communications specialist prior to training for ministry.