Gov. Brown signing a bill. Photo
courtesy the Examiner.

The legislative session has ended, and many criminal justice bills are on Governor Brown’s desk, awaiting his signature or veto. Here are some of the important decision already made, or about to be made, at the gubernatorial office.

There is a whole lot of gun control bills. This legislative session, no doubt influenced by the Sandy Hook tragedy, included many bills to prohibit certain types of ammunition, outlaw the sale of fixing kits to create assault rifles, ban open carry, and require certification and licensing. The NRA has issued a call to its members to oppose all of these bills.

There’s also AB 105, proposed by Gov. Brown himself, and signed a few days ago, which will spend $315 million of your money and mine on contracting with private jails. This is part of Brown’s campaign to circumvent the Supreme Court order to reduce population; as BeyondChron pointed out time and again,  Brown’s stubbornness on prisons and general punitive old-school approach to incarceration is difficult to reconcile with his otherwise progressive positions.

Happily, not all news are bad. Brown has signed SB 260, which will give juveniles incarcerated for lengthy periods of time a right to appear before the Board of Parole Hearings to demonstrate their suitability for release after serving at least 15 years of their sentence. This bill may affect the fate of as many as 5,000 California inmates.

Still awaiting gubernatorial approval is SB 649, which would convert all simple drug possession offenses in California into wobblers, allowing for their prosecution as misdemeanors. Ironically, approving SB 649 may work well in conjunction with AB 105, in terms of the monetary savings and inmate diversion that will result from it.

Also sent to the governor’s approval is AB 218, otherwise known as Ban the Box, which prohibits asking job applicants about their criminal records until it is established that they meet the minimum qualifications for the job.

Also notable, SB 569, if signed by the Governor, will require the police to videotape all police interrogations of juveniles accused of murder. Why only juveniles? Why only murder? Presumably, you have to start somewhere, and the risks of procuring false confessions are greater with juvenile suspects. Even this partial requirement has police officers bristling, though I can see benefits to the police in the sense that proper interrogations can no longer be grounds for lawsuits or public upheaval.

If any of the bills to be signed is close to your heart, and you’d like to tell the governor, please do so!

Mailing address:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

Email here.

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