2019 Policy Newsletter

A huge thank you to all of our co-sponsors and an extra special thanks to everyone who is incarcerated that helped make these victories possible.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the bills that Governor Newsom signed go into effect January 1, 2020.

SB 36 Pretrial Risk Assessments (Sen. Hertzberg) – This law requires that risk assessments used in pretrial detention decisions be validated for accuracy and screened for bias based on gender, race, or ethnicity.  Judicial Council will collect data regarding information fed into risk assessment tools and the outputs they generate.

AB 45 Eliminating Medical Copays in Prisons and Jails (Asm. Stone) – People in California prisons and jails no longer have to pay a medical copay before they can see a doctor or dentist. The law also eliminates fees that blocked access to durable medical equipment – like diabetic shoes, glasses, and dentures.

SB 136 RISE Act 2019 (Sen. Wiener) – This law narrows the application of the 1-yr sentence enhancement. Before this campaign, a prosecutor or judge would add an extra year to your sentence for every time you got the harsher sentence of prison or jail instead of probation. This enhancement has overwhelmingly impacted Black and Brown people.  

These victories are a result of the hard work put in by our members! Help us continue to push forward life-changing legislation, sign-up for our membership!

Congratulations to our allies who led these campaigns and made these victories possible. 

AB 32 Detention facilities (Asm. Bonta) – Prohibits the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from entering into, or renewing contracts with private, for-profit prisons after January 1, 2020, and eliminates the use of private for-profit prisons by January 1, 2028. 

SB 192 (Sen. Hertzberg) – Repeals a provision of the law, known as “posse comitatus,” which makes an able-bodied person 18 years of age or older who refuses to aid a peace officer or a judge guilty of a crime and subject to a fine between $50-$1000.

SB 269 Wrongful convictions (Sen. Bradford) – Provides compensation to people who were wrongly convicted and have proved their innocence

SB 310 Right to be on a Jury (Sen. Skinner) – This law restores the ability to serve on a jury after release from a felony prison or jail term. People on parole, felony probation, and other types of post-release supervision, and people with PC 290 registration requirements are still excluded. This law seeks to address the unjust suppression of Black and Brown jurors caused by Jim Crow-era requirements and decades of harsher sentencing.

AB 392 Act to Save Lives (Asm. Dr.  Weber) – Creates a higher legal standard for police use of force and deadly force by police officers. Declares it the intent of this law that police officers should use deadly force only when necessary to defend life. 

SB 394 Diversion for Primary Caregivers of Minor Children (Sen. Skinner) – Allows counties to create a pretrial diversion program for people charged with misdemeanors or non-serious, non-violent crimes, who are the primary caregivers for a dependent minor. The programs will last between 6-24 months and may include referral to supportive services, classes, and alternate supervision to avoid incarceration. The charges are dismissed on successful completion of the diversion program.

AB 484 Crimes: probation (Asm. Jones-Sawyer) – Removes the mandatory minimum of 180-days jail time as a condition of probation for the sale of powder cocaine, cocaine base (crack), heroin, and phencyclidine (PCP).

AB 701 Housing for the Exonerated (Asm. Dr. Weber) – People exonerated of a crime will now receive $5,000 upon release, to be used to pay for housing. This law also entitles the exonerated person to receive direct payment or reimbursement for reasonable housing costs for up to four years post-exoneration.

AB 965 Credits Toward Youth Offender Hearings (Asm. Mark Stone) – This bill affirms that the Youth Parole Eligible Date (YPED) is the earliest calculable parole date for someone whose controlling offense was committed before that person was 26. It authorizes CDCR to apply Prop 57 credit earning toward the YPED. CDCR will issue regulations on applying these credits. AB 965 also establishes that Youth Offender Parole Hearings are to occur within 6 months of a YPED. For determinate sentences, eligibility starts the first day of someone’s 15th year of incarceration; the first day of the 20th year for terms less than 25 years; and the first day of the 25th year for sentences 25 years or longer.

AB 1394 Juveniles: sealing of records (Asm. Daly) – Eliminates the fee for filing to seal court records in a juvenile case.

AB 1421 Supervised release: revocation (Asm. Bauer-Kahan) – Prohibits the revocation of any type of supervised release for failure to pay fines, fees, or assessments, unless the defendant has the ability to pay.

AB 1423 Transfers to juvenile court (Asm. Wicks) – Allows juvenile cases that get transferred to adult court to be referred back to juvenile court when charges are lessened or dismissed.

AB 1618 Plea Bargaining: benefits of later enactments (Asm. Jones-Sawyer) – Affirms that a plea agreement cannot ask someone to waive the benefits from future court rulings, voter initiatives, or legislative enactments that come after someone has signed a plea agreement.

As written, the law is not retroactive, and may not apply to convictions that are final, or that can no longer be appealed. This law comes in response to recent plea agreements from the San Diego District Attorney’s office that asked defendants to waive all potential sentencing benefits from changes in the law. General waivers like that are now void.

... and Will Not Continue Next Year

We’d like to acknowledge the work of our allies who got these important measures to Legislators and in some cases to the Governor’s desk.

SB 42 The Getting Home Safe Act (Sen. Skinner) – This bill would have required county sheriffs to develop safer procedures for overnight releases, by: (1) requiring that county jails provide a safe place where someone released between 5pm and 8am can wait to be picked up, and (2) requiring that jails provide assistance to people entering drug rehabilitation programs upon release, and that a person released after 30 days incarceration be supplied at least 3 days of necessary medication.

Though he agreed that overnight release is “simply an unsafe practice”, Governor Newsom vetoed the bill stating that it would put the state on the hook for costs that counties should be responsible for.

SB 284 Keep Youth Closer to Home Act (Sen. Beall) – This bill aimed to reduce counties’ reliance on the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), and to incentivize investment in local alternatives. This bill would’ve increased the fee counties pay to send youth to DJJ facilities to $125,000 per year. Currently, counties pay $24,000 per year to send youth to DJJ, even though the total annual cost to keep youth in DJJ custody is $300,000.

Earlier this year, Governor Newsom moved the DJJ from CDCR to Health and Human Services (HHS). DJJ is now part of the new Department of Youth and Community Restoration within HHS.

SB 575 Cal Grants: student eligibility (Sen. Bradford) – This bill would have allowed a student who is incarcerated to be eligible to receive a Cal Grant award.

In his veto message, Governor Newsom cited the limited number of Cal Grants as a reason for his veto. The Governor also signaled that he may take this issue on in his next Budget. 

AB 607 Probation: eligibility (Asm. Carrillo) – This bill would have allowed judges to order probation for certain nonviolent drug offenses.

AB 1321 Juvenile facilities: use of chemical spray (Asm. Gipson) – This bill would have required the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) to conduct a study on the use of chemical spray (commonly, pepper spray) in juvenile facilities. It would have also required juvenile facilities to report on when and how chemical spray was used.

AB 1282 No Private ICE Act (Asm. Kalra) – This bill would have prohibited CDCR from allowing private companies from conducting immigration enforcement operations within CDCR facilities. It also would’ve prevented CDCR from transferring people as a way of cooperating with private immigration enforcement companies. Governor Newsom cited concerns of transfer delays and an impact on prison operations in his veto.

These bills were introduced this year and will continue on to next year. 2020 will be the 2nd year in the Legislature’s 2-yr cycle. EBC will support our partners who are leading these efforts to help get them across the finish line. Help us win! Become a member.

ACA 6 Free the Vote (Asm. McCarty) – ACA 6 is the ballot measure asking permission from voters to change  California’s constitution so people on parole are restored their voting rights. AB 646 (Asm. McCarty) makes the necessary changes in the law to bring back those voting rights.

SB 132 Housing Classification for Incarcerated Transgender People (Sen. Weiner) – This bill requires CDCR to ask each person entering its custody about their gender identity. This bill requires that identification, communications, and housing be consistent with a person’s stated gender identity.

SB 144 Families Over Fees Act (Sen. Mitchell) – This bill eliminates many of the administrative fees imposed by the criminal legal system and reduce the suffering caused by court debt. Fees eliminated by this bill would include those for drug testing, bookings, arrest, probation, parole supervision, and electronic monitoring. This bill has been amended to eliminate some fees but we still see it as very robust, and it passed the Senate 26-28. EBC is proud to co-sponsor this bill.

SB 555 Jail Fair Access and Connection to Support (FACTS) (Sen. Mitchell) – This bill requires that the items in a county jail canteen are offered for sale at the cost paid to the vendor supplying the items. This bill also changes the name of the Inmate Welfare Fund to the Incarcerated People’s Fund and requires that these funds be expended solely for the benefit, education, and welfare of the people who are incarcerated in the facility. In addition, this bill prohibits commissions in telephone and communication service contracts for juvenile facilities and county jails, and requires such telephone and communication service contracts to be negotiated and awarded to the lowest cost provider. EBC is excited to join this campaign as a co-sponsor.

AB 581 Resentencing for Members of the Military (Asm. Levine) – This bill allows former or current members of the U.S. military to petition for recall and resentencing if they suffered certain types of trauma from their service, regardless of when they were convicted.

AB 787 Voter Registration in Jails (Asm. Gipson) – A bill to allow in-person voter registration in jails. 

Note: this bill may be reintroduced in 2020 with a new number.

AB 901 Juveniles (Asm. Gipson) – Eliminates truancy and disobedience as offenses in juvenile court and limits probation intervention.

AB 1185 Officer oversight (Asm. McCarty) – This bill allows counties to develop an oversight board for their Sheriff departments. It will give this board subpoena power and an inspector general to help in investigations. This bill is partly  in response to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones’ actions to obstruct the investigation of Sheriff’s Deputies killing Mikel McIntyre in 2017.

California Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative – This ballot initiative seeks to roll back advancements gained in Prop 47, Prop 57, and AB 109. This would expand the number of crimes that can be charged as felonies; limit early parole; and create two additional types of crimes – serial crime and organized retail crime. It also would require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.

A "yes" vote adds crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted; increases the penalty for certain types of theft, fraud crimes and misdemeanors; and requires DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.

A “no” vote opposes the initiative to create new felonies, limit parole, and increase penalties.

California Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum – Last year the Legislature passed SB 10 to eliminate money bail in pretrial detention. In response, the bail bonds industry has resourced a referendum asking voters to approve the move.

A "yes" vote approves SB 10 and replaces cash bail with risk assessments and expanded judicial   discretion to determine whether someone should be held in jail while they wait for their trial.

A “no” vote repeals SB 10, and keeps cash bail in place for pretrial detention.

California Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative – Commonly known as the Schools and Communities First Initiative, this ballot initiative changes the way commercial and industrial properties are taxed, so that they’re taxed on their market value instead of their purchase price. The new revenue – estimated between $6-10 billion – would be divided so that 40% would fund school districts and community colleges, and 60% would go to local governments.

A "yes" vote supports taxing commercial and industrial properties based on their market value, instead of their purchase price (excluding commercial agriculture properties and small businesses), and supports allocating revenue from the tax change to local governments and school districts.

A “no” vote continues taxing these properties below their market rate.

California Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment – If ACA 6 (McCarty) is passed, this is how it will appear on the ballot.

A “yes” vote approves ACA 6, provides people on parole the right to vote in California.

A “no” vote rejects ACA 6.

Going Back to Court

Lastly, our victories in repealing and removing the automatic application of the most common sentence enhancements has helped open a door to get a lot of past convictions reconsidered. Building off these wins, we’ve recently published a guide to help navigate the resentencing process: Back to Court: A Resentencing Guide to the Fair and Just Sentencing and Reform Act (SB 1393) and PC § 1170(d)(1). This toolkit is designed to be a specific resource for people impacted by SB 1393 with 5-year enhancements on their current sentence for prior serious felonies, and also a general resource for anyone interested in PC § 1170(d)(1) resentencing and how it may impact other sentence enhancements. Let us know if you need a copy sent to you or if you have any feedback on what you’ve seen.

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