It’s no secret that the current criminal justice system in the US is highly disproportionate and unjust.
Its reform has been a hot topic in recent years, fueled by growing awareness of racial and socioeconomic disparities in the criminal justice system.
California, as the most populous state in the country, has been on the forefront of this movement with a variety of reforms, policies, and initiatives aimed at creating a fairer and more just system.
What Are Some Recent Reforms in the Criminal Justice System?
In today’s society, when cases of criminal justice reform have been making headlines across the nation, it’s important to stay informed about recent developments in this area.
Here are a few reforms that have taken place in the past few years:
Bail Reform: One of the most significant reforms in California has been the elimination of cash bail.
In 2018, a new law was passed that replaces the traditional cash bail system with a risk assessment and pretrial release system.
This reform acknowledges that cash bail unfairly penalizes low-income defendants who are unable to pay their way out of jail, while wealthier defendants can easily post bail and await trial from the comfort of their homes.
Police Accountability: Recent instances of police brutality and misconduct have spurred calls for greater accountability and transparency within law enforcement.
California has responded with a number of initiatives to increase police training and accountability. AB 392, a new law that went into effect in January 2020, updates the legal standard for deadly force used by police officers, requiring them to use it only when necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
Youthful Offender Parole: In 2018, California passed SB 1391, which bars prosecutors from trying anyone younger than 16 as an adult.
This allows individuals who were under 18 years old when they committed their crimes to be considered for parole after serving 15 years of their sentence and recognizes that young people are more susceptible to making mistakes and should not be punished as harshly as adults for their actions.
Racial Justice Act: In 2020: California passed AB 2542, also known as the Racial Justice Act. Defendants can challenge their convictions or sentences if they can show that racial bias, either in the form of implicit or explicit prejudice, played a role in their case.
While there’s still much work to be done, these recent reforms, policies, and initiatives have made progress towards a fairer and more just criminal justice system in California.
From reducing the number of nonviolent offenders in prison to eliminating cash bail and offering parole to youthful offenders, these changes reflect a growing awareness of the need for reform and the desire to create a system that is more humane, equitable, and effective.
It’s hoped that these policies will pave the way for further changes in the years to come, helping to create a criminal justice system that truly serves the people.
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