On Policing, What Will Gov. Brown’s Legacy Be?

On September 2, I marched, rallied, and protested with nearly 800 people in Sacramento to demand that Gov. Brown sign AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015. We staged die-ins outside the Capitol and heard powerful testimony from family members of people killed by law enforcement. They came seeking recognition, respect, and dignity for their siblings, children and friends. Following the rally, we occupied the hall outside of Gov. Brown's office for nearly two hours because … [Read more...]

Bills Sent to Gov. Brown Would Create New Felonies, Putting More in Prison

Like other state legislatures around the country, California's legislature has given us some progressive changes in the arena of criminal justice and law enforcement, but Sacramento is also producing bills that move the other way. Paige St. John of the LA Times reports on some of these here. ven months after California reduced prison crowding to a level accepted by federal courts, lawmakers have sent Gov. Jerry Brown proposals that would create new felony crimes for which people could be … [Read more...]

Gov. Brown Backslides on Corrections Budget

View image | gettyimages.com No Substantial Reductions to the Prison Population Only Costly Expansion Gov. Brown’s 2015-16 Budget, released this past week, defies comments earlier this week that the administration is committed to shrinking California’s over-sized prisons by increasing prison spending by 1.7%,bringing the total Corrections budget up to $12.676 billion. f the Governor believes that ‘we can’t pour more and more dollars down the rat hole of incarceration’ and has actively … [Read more...]

The Messy Politics of California’s Prison Crisis

"A prison that deprives prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care, is incompatible with the concept of human dignity and has no place in civilized society," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority in a Supreme Court ruling against Governor Jerry Brown and the state of California in the 2011 case Brown v. Plata. The Supreme Court had just affirmed what lower courts had been telling California for decades: The prisons are too crowded. It's time to fix the … [Read more...]

Brown Promises, Again, to Fix the Prisons. Will He?

here's always one kid in class who gets away with it. You know the one. The teacher says the homework is due Friday and if you don't turn it in, you flunk. But this kid pleads for more time. Just give him the weekend and he promises to get it done. The teacher says OK, then Monday comes and he asks to be given until the end of the week. And then he promises to turn it in at the end of the year. Then he says he can get it done by next April. Promise. Now, how about two years from … [Read more...]

3 Ways to Successfully Reform Criminal Justice

proved to be a significant year for criminal and juvenile justice reform in California. Landmark legislation was passed in SB 260 (Hancock), allowing individuals to petition for a resentencing hearing after serving at least 15 years of a life sentence for an offense committed while a youth. The state also passed AB 218 (Dickinson) that addressed employment discrimination for justice-involved individuals. This policy provides formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance at success during … [Read more...]

In Death Penalty’s Steady Decline, Some Experts See a Societal Shift

he death penalty in the United States continued its pattern of broad decline in 2013, with experts attributing the low numbers to a critical shortage of drugs used for lethal injection, increasing public concern over judicial mistakes and the expense of capital cases, and a growing preference for life without parole. Eighty death sentences were imposed by American courts this year, compared with a peak of 315 in 1994, and 39 executions took place, compared with 98 in 1999, according to an … [Read more...]

Urge Gov. Brown’s Signature on Key Reform Bills

As 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 … [Read more...]

Governor Brown, California Legislature Squeezed on Criminal Justice Reforms

September is a pivotal time in California politics as state legislation must pass out of both houses of the legislature before the September 13 deadline and then Governor Brown has until October 13 by which he can sign or veto these bills. Both the legislature and Governor Brown are currently reviewing a wide range of juvenile and criminal justice policies that will have a long-term impact on the state. California continues to work through the implications of Realignment, and develop a safe … [Read more...]

California Lawmakers Okay “Ban the Box” Bill

Thursday, the state Senate  approved a bill that converts the state's job application policy regarding felony conviction questions into a law that applies to local government agencies. Assembly Bill 218, authored by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto and after 40-seat upper chamber passed it with the minimum 21 votes. The bill is part of a growing movement called "ban the box" that seeks to eliminate the check-box … [Read more...]