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...]

Drug Sentencing Reform Bill Approved by California Assembly

Sacramento is at this very moment considering spending another one billion taxpayer dollars on prisons. That’s crazy! We’ve given our elected officials a better option: pass modest drug sentencing reform that would actually safely reduce incarceration costs. Well, guess what?! They’ve done it! Last Wednesday, the California State Assembly passed SB 649, a bill authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) which gives local prosecutors the flexibility to charge low-level, non-violent drug … [Read more...]

People with Drug Problems Need Treatment Not Felony Convictions

Change the Law By Kevan Insko, Friends Committee on Legislation of California (Contact) To be delivered to: The California State House and Governor Jerry Brown PETITION STATEMENT We need Senate Bill 649 to become law. It gives local prosecutors the option to charge simple drug possession as a misdemeanor instead of a felony—saving millions of dollars that can be used for mental health and drug treatment, and protecting thousands of people from the stigma of a felony conviction. No matter how … [Read more...]

Rally Legislators to Reduce Drug Possession Penalties

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, Senior Policy Advocate at the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties requests our help getting California Senate Bill 649 passed. Authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and coauthored by Senators Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) and Hanna Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), the bill reduces the penalties for certain controlled substances: Existing law provides that the unlawful possession of certain controlled substances, including, among others, opiates, opium, opium … [Read more...]

SB 649’s “Wobbler” Option Creates Flexibility for Certain Drug Offenders

SB 649, authored by State Senator Mark Leno, pursues a similar approach to Realignment by recognizing that people convicted of simple drug possession, as well as the overall community, will not benefit from austere penalties. Rather, these incarcerated persons would benefit greatly from sentences that expand access to rehabilitation, which can be better provided through this bill. SB 649 brings the penalties for criminal handling of more addictive drugs, such as cocaine, into line with drugs … [Read more...]

War on Drugs: The ‘Wobbler’ Option

Simple possession of small amounts of methamphetamine — enough for personal use but presumably not for dealing — is a "wobbler" in California, meaning that offenses can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors. It's different with possession of cocaine, opiates such as heroin and many other addictive drugs; they currently can be charged only as felonies. The state Senate has now passed a bill to bring criminal handling of those drugs into line with methamphetamine, and the measure is … [Read more...]

Bill Reducing Drug Possession Penalty Passes California Senate

Last Thursday, the California Senate approved SB649, which will give prosecutorial and judicial discretion to charge possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use as a felony or a misdemeanor as the case warrants, by a 23-14 margin. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would help reduce prison and jail overcrowding in California and potentially even provide savings to the financially-strapped courts because felony charges require setting a preliminary hearing, … [Read more...]

Give Prosecutors Discretion in Drug Cases – Support SB 649 TODAY

Justice Not Jails urges everyone concerned with mass incarceration to take action today in support of rational reform related to drug policy. MONDAY, MARCH 25, is the deadline for sending letters of support for an important piece of legislation. Everybody knows that a felony conviction brings much graver consequences than a misdemeanor. When people with felony drug convictions eventually finally get out of prison, they face harsh barriers to employment and to other rights and benefits that … [Read more...]