As many have predicted, the 2019-2020 legislative session seems to be boiling down to protecting many of the progressive and socially responsible changes made over the last few years. It’s interesting that many bills introduced would gut past changes, potentially pulling criminal justice reform backward.
The below list of bills are some of the more impactful we’re watching. Most would exclude specific groups of inmates from already instituted reforms. Despite the relative success of YOPH and elderly parole programs with no associated increase in crime rates, many of the below bills would weaken or gut those reforms.
As these proposals roll through the legislative process we’ll keep alert to votes and changes. Savvy prisoners should alert their friends and family on the outside to contact their state legislators to express their opinion on the wisdom of these bills and how their respective legislators should vote. That’s what the political process is all about, and just because prisoners can’t vote, doesn’t mean you can’t participate.
"SB" bills (senate bill) denote those originating in the Senate while the "AB" notation (assembly bill) is for those bills coming out of the Assembly. And while we go out of our way not to appear partisan, we do find it interesting the number of backward progression bills in this list were introduced by Republican legislators. Just sayin’.
SB 141 (Bates-R, Laguna Hills) would extend BPH authority to refer for Sexual Violent Predator confinement to those with indeterminate (life) terms, this bill is in committee process and is supported by DA and law enforcement associations and opposed by public defenders and ACLU.
SB 411 (Jones-R, Escondido) removes those convicted of specific sexual offense (667.61, sections b through i) from consideration under the elderly parole hearing process. This bill is supported by supported DA associations, Crime Victims United and opposed by public defenders and the ACLU.
AB 580 (Lackey-R, Palmdale) would require written notice to DAs and victims before the Governor takes action on a commutation of sentence the victim’s family could also request a public hearing before the board regarding commutation of a death sentence and requires other notification standards. This bill is supported by the Peace Officers Research Assertion and opposed by various groups faith and social justice groups as well as the ACLU, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and public defenders.
AB 665 (Gallagher-R, Chico co-author Sen. Nielsen-R, Roseville) would essentially gut previous bill SB 394 that extended parole hearing for LWOP inmates who were under 18 at the time of their crime. This bill would negate that consideration, that has provided great hope to the LWOP community.
AB 965 (Stone-D, Santa Cruz) would apply credits earned by prisoners toward reduce the minimum of 25 years of continuous incarceration to be eligible for the Elderly Parole Program or advance the date of initial YOPH hearing date. The sheriffs’ associations oppose.
AB 1641 (Kiley-R, Granite Bay) would remove those prisoners with murder convictions from being included in the YOPH consideration date and parole suitability consideration.
Sometimes it's a fast moving target, but we'll try to keep you up to date on what's current. Hope this is a help to you and your incarcerated loved one.