2 More Criminal Justice Reform Bills Head to Gov – ‘Gang’ Law Modified, and 911 Call Alternatives to Cops


By The Vanguard Staff

SACRAMENTO, CA — Two more criminal justice reform measures were approved by the CA Legislature Wednesday and sent to Gov. Newsom for his signature.

Already, lawmakers have OK’d SB 2—which would maintain an investigatory body able to investigate and, if necessary, de-certify and effectively fire officers for breaching standards—and approved another measure, SB 16, that would make public more records about police misconduct.

And Wednesday, Sen. Sydney K. Kamlager’s (D-LA) AB 333, the STEP Forward ACT, was sent to the governor, as was AB 118, the CRISES Act: Community Response Initiative to Strengthen Emergency Systems.

AB 333 modifies current gang enhancement statutes, described by Kamlager as having “vague definitions, weak standards of proof, and are perhaps the most racially discriminatory part of the criminal justice system: 92 percent of people with gang enhancements in California are people of color.”

AB 333 would, if signed, “reduce the list of crimes allowing gang enhancements to be charged, prohibiting the use of the current charge as proof of a ‘pattern’ of criminal gang activity, and separating gang allegations from underlying charges at trial,” according to the bill’s author.

“The STEP Forward Act, is just that—a step forward in prioritizing due process within our criminal legal system. I’m hopeful AB 333 will be signed into law, so we can take the first step in addressing the pain unfairly and egregiously inflicted by gang enhancements upon California’s communities,” the lawmaker said.

AB 333 passed the Assembly 41-25. Co-sponsors include Anti-Recidivism Coalition, NextGen, The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, Silicon Valley DeBug, Pillars of the Community, and Young Women’s Freedom Center.

AB 118 would create a grant—there’s already $10 million in the state budget—for community-based alternatives to police response during 911 calls. A similar bill by Kamlager last session was vetoed by Newsom.

“We can’t afford to wait any longer to re-engineer a system that’s continually failed Black and Brown folks. It’s long been time to support alternatives to police involvement…law enforcement can no longer serve as the go-to during times of emergency. The CRISES Act puts forward community-centered solutions to local emergencies, and poses as a true opportunity to really advance racial equity in California,” said Kamlager.

Although the governor rejected the bill last session, this time it’s co-sponsored by 14 organizations, and passed both houses with nearly unanimous and bipartisan support, with a final vote of 60-0.


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12 thoughts on “2 More Criminal Justice Reform Bills Head to Gov – ‘Gang’ Law Modified, and 911 Call Alternatives to Cops”

  1. Ron Oertel

    Although the governor rejected the bill last session, this time it’s co-sponsored by 14 organizations, and passed both houses with nearly unanimous and bipartisan support, with a final vote of 60-0.

    Might be helpful to highlight differences (if any), between this version and the last version.

    1. David Greenwald

      Honestly, unless the  story is actually they amended the bill in order to pass, you rarely see a news story highlight things like this.  In this case, it was largely unchanged.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Which leads one to question why there’s more (implied) support this time.

        Who changed their minds (from last year), and why? (Though it apparently reached the governor’s desk last year, as well.)

        This type of question isn’t limited to this bill, nor does it lend itself to an article obviously in-support of a given issue.

        Actually, I believe that some news organizations (such as CalMatters) dive more deeply into such issues, at times.

        1. David Greenwald

          Good questions. This article was more an announcement than any kind of deep dive. For example, I did a pretty thorough article on AB 333 last week. This was more of an update.

          1. David Greenwald

            And btw, there will be a whole bunch this week as they wrap up the session. Basically wrapping up the bills that pass and don’t pass. Most of those are going to be short, won’t have a lot of detail. If there are things that end up being more controversial, then we might do a deeper dive. So if AB 333 gets signed by the governor, I probably would request an interview with Kamlager.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Bill, that type of reference (in which “editing” changes are shown in the bill itself) demonstrates some changes that have occurred this session, but does not really provide a comparison between years.

          In addition, David noted this:

          In this case, it was largely unchanged.

          So, that leads me to question why it apparently has more support this time, and why the governor is (presumably) expected to sign it this time, when he didn’t last time.

          I generally don’t do deep, extra research for every article I read.  In this case, I’m responding to what was written in this article.

          Since it seems like you have, what do you think the major changes are (since David has already acknowledged that there essentially aren’t any). And, why do you think it has more (implied) support this time?

        2. Alan Miller

          Some learn to fish on their own.

          Some need to be taught to fish (ibid)

          Others demand to be spoon-fed their fish very long after they are 3.

          We all have different patience levels…

          I have patience for the first two.

          Some people are retired and have lots of time on their hands . . . to fish, for example.

          Others read newspaper sites and blogs and expect to have the basic facts given before the opinion, and don’t appreciate being scolded for not deeply researching issues that we only know exist because they are paraded before us on activist blog sites (which admittedly we don’t have to read).

          Y’all seem to often forget these are YOUR issues, and if you want people who aren’t activists to actually care and even occasionally support some of these, you might want to EXPLAIN rather than SCOLD.

          Or you can just enjoy your F–KING echo chamber.

          Guess what I don’t have patience for  😐

          1. David Greenwald

            You seem to be confusing me and Bill here. You are addressing Bill’s comment as though it were mine.

        3. Ron Oertel

          David: I took it as the first part responding to Bill’s comment, and the second part (generally/partially) responding to the article (and the Vanguard).

          You did not “scold”, in this case.

          But it would be interesting to know the reason that the governor rejected it last time.


          1. David Greenwald

            Again, I think your question is reasonable. We don’t know if the governor signs it this time, it is only headed to his desk. Sometimes the legislator doesn’t even know why it was vetoed – they are usually more accessible than the governor.

        4. Ron Oertel

          And actually, there’s more than one bill that the article refers to, and it appears that the “repeat” bill (regarding $10 million for non-police response, statewide) might be the least-important of the bunch.  $10 million doesn’t sound like it would go very far, and it seems strange that Newsom would have rejected it last time.

          I assume that the bill which weakens enforcement against gangs is “new” this year.  This seems like the most important bill of the bunch.

          Seems like lawmakers forget the reason(s) that prior laws were created in the first place. Is gang activity no longer a problem?


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