April 18, 2017: Measure to end wasteful incarceration passes key policy committee

April 18, 2017

Last of #EquityAndJustice measures passes initial policy test

SACRAMENTO – Less than a month after introduction, the last bill in a package of sweeping reforms of how California treats youths and young adults today passed its initial policy test.

“People are finally understanding that it is time to reform a system so that more emphasis is put on rehabilitation,” Sen. Holly J. Mitchell said after members of the Senate Committee on Public Safety approved Senate Bill 180, a modest step toward enacting the bipartisan movement to end wasteful incarceration spending in favor of community reinvestments.

SB 180 is part of an #EquityAndJustice package jointly authored by Democrats Mitchell and Sen. Ricardo Lara. The two Los Angeles-area Democrats unveiled the measures March 20 seeking major justice reforms that put greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and maintaining family cohesion.

Supporters hailed passage of SB 180.

“The policy of sentencing people with nonviolent drug offenses to long periods of incarceration has proven an expensive failure,” said Eunisses Hernandez, Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Sentence enhancements for prior drug convictions have not in any way reduced availability of drugs nor has it made our communities any safer. Repealing this war on drugs tool will free funds that can be reinvested in community programs that improve the quality of life and reduce crime.”

Ivette Alé, statewide coordinator for​ Californians United for a Responsible Budget, agreed.

 “We celebrate the restorative impact (SB 180) will have on our communities,” Alé said. “These enhancements have resulted in sentencing thousands of people — mainly young men and women of color — to long periods of incarceration in brutal state prisons and county jails, destabilizing families and communities.”

The two lawmakers explained the bills during a recent press conference. Watch that press conference HERE.

Their other measures are:

SB 190 – Ending Juvenile Fees

Approved two weeks ago by the Senate Human Services Committee, this measure would eliminate court fees on those found innocent of a crime. Status: Faces review Monday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 355 – No Court Fees for the Innocent

This would provide that only those who are convicted of a crime are required to reimburse the courts for legal counsel fees. Status: Approved by the Senate on April 3; this measure now awaits action in the Assembly.

SB393 – Sealing of arrests
Senate Bill 393 seals arrest records and remove barriers to employment for those arrested but not convicted of a crime. SB 393 is sponsored by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. Status: Approved by Public Safety last month, SB 393 next faces review by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 25.

SB 394 – Juveniles Life Without the Possibility of Parole
Brings California into compliance with Montgomery v. Louisiana decision that juveniles cannot be sentenced to Life Without Parole. Status: To be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a date yet to be set.

SB 395 – Miranda Rights for Youth
Requires youth under the age of 18 consult with legal counsel before they waive their constitutional rights in interrogations with police. Status: To be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a date yet to be set.

SB 439 – Minimum Age for Prosecution

This would exclude children age 11 and younger from juvenile court jurisdiction and would promote the rights, health and well-being of the child by curbing premature exposure to incarceration. Status: Faces review Monday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 180 will next be considered by the full Senate. No date has yet been set.

For more information, visit Sen. Mitchell’s Web site HERE or at the address below.

Sen. Mitchell is chair of the Senate Budget Committee. A member of the Legislature for more than six years,  she represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 30, which includes Culver City and much of Los Angeles. More at www.senate.ca.gov/Mitchell



Communications Director

Sen. Holly Mitchell, Senate District 30

Capitol Building, Room 5080

Sacramento, Calif. 95814

(916) 651-4030 office; 916 717-0513 cell