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New Push For Sentencing Reform After Latest Prisons Ruling

Calif. Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation

Pelican Bay State Prison

Calif. Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation

The chairs of the Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committees both want to start the process of overhauling California’s sentencing laws this year.

“It’s a telephone book of laws that were modified and enhanced and tweaked here and tweaked there, that you really need to have people who are professional at this look at it,” says state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley).

Five similar efforts have failed over the last decade – either in the legislature or through a gubernatorial veto.

Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) says this effort should fail too: “A sentencing commission is not what we need to ensure public safety; to the contrary, these folks’ idea of (a) sentencing commission – it’s all about shortening sentences and changing justice,” he says. 

Gov. Jerry Brown indicated support for sentencing reform in an unrelated veto message last year.  And Monday’s federal court order said the administration has agreed to consider a sentencing reform commission.

 capitol

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio