Governor Seeks Sentencing Reform on the Ballot 
Week of February 1, 2016 
By Shaun Rundle, Government Affairs and Public Safety Specialist 

Last week Governor Jerry Brown submitted language to the Attorney General’s office that would ease the parole process for certain felons. Although the Democratic governor signed California’s existing determinate sentencing law nearly four decades ago, he has indicated that his proposed initiative would not change existing sentencing rules. Despite being touted as “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016,” CPOA does not want the public to be misled as they were with Prop 47. 

In essence, the proposal consists of:

Redefines parole system for nonviolent felons currently serving time in state prison, earning them the opportunity to be considered for early release.

Restores ability for a judge to determine whether a juvenile should be tried in criminal court (as prosecutors currently have opportunity to make that determination).

CDCR given opportunity to implement an awards system for good behavior. 

Joining the Governor in support of his initiative were California religious leaders, including Deacon Clyde Davis of the California Correctional Institution (CCI) in Tehachapi in Southern California. Davis has spent years as a Catholic chaplain in various jails and prisons. 

“Giving them incentives to at least start the process is really important,” said Deacon Davis. “This will draw them in, and eventually they (inmates) will change little by little,” added Davis, who has spent years as a Catholic chaplain in jails and prisons.

Concerns about his approach of course revolve around the public’s perception that these offenders will be properly treated and acclimated back into society. We have seen increases in re-offenses due to the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014, and CPOA agencies have concerns that ‘serious’ felony offenders who may not necessarily be classified as violent would be included in this early release proposal. 

Although various CPOA members and agencies throughout California has initial concerns about the measure, Governor Brown was joined at his press conference announcing the initiative by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and representatives of the Chief Probation Officers of California.

CPOA will be discussing the measure, and messaging surrounding it at our February 11th board meeting in Southern California. The initiative’s language can be found here.

To view previous Advocacy APB! posts, click here.