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.