(USNewsMag.com) – A California bill requiring judges to consider the race of a convicted criminal before determining their sentence is currently being considered in the California state Senate.
Introduced by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer in February, Bill 852 was passed in May by the Assembly and is not being considered by the California state Senate. Jones-Sawyer is the Democratic chair of the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee as well as a member of California’s reparations task force.
The proposed bill would add to the Penal Code of California. A new section would require courts to “rectify” the criminal justice system’s alleged racial bias and how minorities have been affected when they are determining prison sentences.
The bill references the California Task Force, which recommended that Black residents who lived in the state between 1971 and 2020 could be owed $115,000, or about $2,352 for each year of residency. The “reparations” would be sold as compensation for what the task force said is overpolicing in black communities, excessive felony drug arrests, and disproportionate time in prison during the war on drugs. Ending cash bail and prosecution for low-level crimes are also proposals being recommended. The bill builds on the task force’s findings by mandating courts fight back against the alleged racial bias in sentencing.
In response to the proposed bill, Republican Public Safety Committee member and Assembly Member Tom Lackey stated that victims as well as public safety should be the “highest consideration” when making decisions in the justice system. He said the justice system needs to demand “accountability for behavior” without consideration of race.
In 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom created the task force to look at implementing cash payments to black people to allegedly make amends for slavery as well as racism. The California Task Force’s findings were released in June, along with other recommendations from its 1,000-page report, to be considered by the California Legislature and, if approved, sent to Newsom’s desk. Dozens of policies are proposed in the report, as well as monetary reparations.
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