California – California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed the most transformative and ambitious probation bill ever in the United States. As there is a disturbingly high number of individuals unjustly in the system, AB 1950 specifically changes the term limits of probation in California.
Previously in California, a misdemeanor probation period could reach 3 years, while felony probation was set at a limit of 5 years. Now with the passage of AB 1950, the bill limits probation for a misdemeanor to 1 year. For a felony offense, the limit an individual may serve probation may not exceed 2 years.
As this was a victory for Californians, it could not have been accomplished without the efforts of the Reform Alliance. The Reform Alliance is a union of industry leaders including founders Meek Mill, Michael Rubin, Robert Kraft, Shawn Carter, Daniel Loeb, Michael Novogratz, Robert Smith, Clara Wu Tsai, Laura Arnold and CEO Van Jones. The mission of the Reform Alliance is to dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system, beginning with probation and parole.
With first-hand experience, founder Meek Mill was a witness and victim to unreasonable probation sentencing. Meek said, “This law is a major victory for the criminal justice reform movement. It’ll save thousands of lives in California and prevent people from being trapped in the probation system for long periods of time like I was.” The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 6.6 million people are currently in the criminal justice system in the United States. Of that population, 4.5 million people are on probation or parole for well beyond reasonable time.
The benefits of reform are not limited to just the person that was incarcerated. Reform will decrease overall incarceration, save taxpayers money and would reduce the heavy workloads and burden on probation officers.
In addition to AB 1950, Governor Newsom signed into law AB 1196 which formally bans the use of chokeholds and neck restraints by law enforcement, and AB 1506 which requires the state Attorney General to investigate fatal shootings of unarmed civilians. Governor Newsom set a precedent that must be followed by other states.
Pennsylvania is among one of the states taking action against the probation and parole system. Democratic Representative Jordan Harris and Republican Representative Sheryl Delozier will introduce a Bipartisan bill aimed at the Pennsylvania probation system. The bill’s goal is to dismantle the revolving door of probation in Pennsylvania. Now is the time to address the injustice through the reform of laws, policies and practices. For more information on the reform alliance, visit www.reformalliance.com
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