Help Pass Vital Criminal Justice Reforms
August is a do-or-die month for criminal justice reform bills in the California Legislature.
Please help us double down in our efforts to pass a suite of bills prioritized by our POC partners that will reduce the number of people in our jails and prisons, restore rights for current and formerly incarcerated persons, reduce sentence enhancements, end money bail, and provide vital resources that will start to repair some of the harms of the war on drugs and the incarceral state.
Legislators need to hear from us.
Join SURJ Bay Area for a statewide week of action August 20th-24th, in which we devote our lunch-times/commit to making calls to legislators every day -- we’ll provide the scripts and the strategic targets, you provide the calls!
Sign up to receive call scripts and targets by sending this template letter to your representatives and we will send you a list of legislative targets, contact information and call scripts.
(For more information on the bills that we will be supporting, please read the descriptions below. Note: all bills that we will potentially ask you to support are included below; however, some bills might be removed as we get a better understanding of their legislative prospects.)
SB 185: This bill would create standard fee reductions for low-income people in traffic court and improves other aspects of traffic court, including notice provisions and protections against license suspensions for failure to appear.
SB 1025: Current law prohibits a judge from granting probation or a suspended sentence to a person convicted of certain drug-related crimes. This bill would eliminate that restriction so that people with these convictions may be granted probation or a suspended sentence.
SB 1391: This bill would repeal the authority of a district attorney to make a motion to transfer a minor from juvenile court to a court of criminal jurisdiction in a case in which a minor is alleged to have committed a specified serious offense when he or she was 14 or 15 years of age, thereby amending Proposition 57. SB 1391 recognizes that 14 and 15 year olds are developmentally different from adults and should not be treated like adults in the criminal justice system. If they commit crimes, youth fare better and are less likely to commit crimes in the future if they are given age- appropriate services and education. This bill prohibits children age 14 and 15 from being tried as adults in criminal court and being sentenced to time in adult prison.
SB 1393 : The “Fair & Just Sentencing Act” gives judicial discretion on the application of a 5 year sentence enhancement for prior serious felonies (also known as “nickel priors”).
SB 1421: This bill restores public access to basic information about confirmed cases of police officer misconduct and serious uses of force, making police actions more transparent. In particular, it will (1) restore Californians’ rights to access records of confirmed cases of sexual assault or serious job-related dishonesty (e.g. perjury, providing false statements, planting/destroying evidence) and (2) restore Californians’ rights to access all records of police shootings, discharge of a taser, and use of force that results in serious bodily injury or death.
SB 1437: Under California’s felony murder rule, a person is criminally liable for any death that occurs as a result of a felony (most often robberies and burglaries) if they participate in any portion of that felony (including preparation, driving the car, etc). This means that any person deemed an accomplice can be charged with first degree murder, even if they were unaware that a killing would take place, or if that death was unintentional, accidental, or unforeseen. This law would amend the felony murder rule, so it no longer applies to “accomplices” and force prosecutors to prove intent. It would be retroactively applied, meaning resentencing for people who did not kill anyone, but have been charged with murder under this rule.
AB 931: Known as the “Police Accountability and Community Protection Act” this bill would change the legal standard for when officers are authorized to use deadly force, to require that it must be “necessary” to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury -- i.e. that given the totality of the circumstances, there was no reasonable alternative to the use of deadline force, including warnings, verbal persuasion, or other non-lethal methods of resolution or de-escalation. It also specifies that a killing is not “justified” if the officer’s negligence contributed to making the force “necessary.” Under current law, police can use deadly force whenever an “objectively reasonable” officer would have done so under the same circumstances -- regardless of whether there was an immediate threat to life or bodily security or whether there were available alternatives. This standard provides legal cover for killings that can be plausibly justified under the law, but were not necessary -- this is precisely what this law seeks to change.
AB 2138: This bill would afford persons with criminal convictions the ability to apply for and receive hundreds of different kinds of professional licenses and certificates, including nursing, pest control, and barbering, just to name a few. In particular, it limits a regulatory board’s discretion to deny a new license application or suspend/revoke an existing license to cases where the applicant or licensee was formally convicted of a substantially related crime or subjected to formal discipline by a licensing board, with offenses older than five years no longer eligible for license denial or suspension or revocation with the exception of violent felonies, as currently established in statute.AB 3131: This bill seeks to enhance transparency and accountability around the acquisition of military equipment by law enforcement agencies. It would require law enforcement to get approval from their local governing body (i.e., city council, board of supervisors, etc.) prior to acquiring military equipment to use in our communities.