Gavin Newsom and your editrix (right) and some chick, in more Californiay times

California is doing nice things again!

On Tuesday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom, seen above some amount of years ago with your editrix and some chick, signed 25 criminal justice reform bills into law. The laws cover everything from rape kit testing to abolishing private prisons to reducing sentences and incarceration.

Besides smashing good looks, see above again, what have we got? Let's crimjustreformsplore!

Second Chances & Sentencing Reform

Senate Bill 394 allows parents and primary caregivers for children under 18 who are charged with nonviolent crimes -- the parents, not the kids -- to opt in to pretrial diversion programs instead of imprisonment. The law aims to redirect parents and caregivers into programs with drug and alcohol treatment, counseling, and career, parenting, and financial classes.

Assembly Bill 1076 will automatically expunge most arrest records of people who have served their time, making it easier for former offenders to get jobs and homes without the stigma of a criminal record.

Senate Bill 310 allows most people with felony convictions to serve on juries. With SB 310 becoming law, California joins more than 20 other states in permitting people with felony convictions to serve on juries, resulting in a more just justice system. "As a black man and public defender, I have witnessed firsthand the damage caused by the systemic exclusion of people with felony convictions from jury service," said Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods. "This bill is a historic step toward achieving racial equity in California."

Senate Bill 136 ends a one-year sentencing enhancement applied to the base sentence for each prior prison or felony jail time served. Sentencing enhancements are a huge contributor to mass incarceration -- around 80% of prisoners have had their sentences enhanced and more than 11,000 people currently incarcerated in California had this arbitrary year added to the end of their sentences.

Assembly Bill 484 ends the mandatory 180 days of jail time prior to probation for possession of cocaine and heroin.

Assemblymember Phil Ting sponsored several of the bills signed into law this week. Said Ting:

People shouldn't have to pay for their mistakes for the rest of their lives. A fresh start improves an individual's chances of succeeding and reduces the likelihood of recidivism. Automating the record clearance process will enable former offenders to get back on their feet and lead productive lives. Our economy and society pay the price when job-seeking workers are shut out.


Assembly Bill 1215 bans law enforcement agencies from using body cameras with facial recognition and biometric surveillance technology that can be used to take and store photos of people in all manner of situations. AB 1215 was a big win for the ACLU and other privacy and racial justice groups and a loss for the law enforcement lobbyists who roundly supported it. In its current state, facial recognition software has been found to be unreliable and have the same racial biases as the people who program it.

As a demonstration of the current flaws in this type of technology, supporters of the bill gave lawmakers a demonstration.

Supporters backed their arguments with a series of ACLU studies that used Amazon's facial recognition software, called Rekognition, to cross-check 120 California legislators against a database of 25,000 publicly available mugshots. The algorithm falsely identified 26 of the lawmakers – including AB 1215 author Assemblyman Phil Ting.

Victims' Rights

Senate Bill 22 attempts to reduce rape kit backlogs in California by making law enforcement agencies submit rape kits to crime labs within 20 days of being collected and requiring that labs test the rape kits within 120 days of their receipt.

Prisoners' Rights

Assembly Bill 45 codifies a new California Department of Corrections policy and prohibits county jails and state prisons from charging copays to prisoners and detainees for receiving medical and dental services. In many parts of the country, incarcerated people are charged exorbitant fees for receiving basic (and often very subpar) medical care.

Private Prisons

Assembly Bill 32 ends California's reliance on private, for-profit prisons, including private ICE concentration camps.

Nice Job, California!

For a list of all of the California bills signed this week, check out Governor Newsom's statement here.

And here are some cute kittens for California -- they earned them this week!


[Newsom Statement / Courthouse News]

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Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.

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