California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), California's professional organization of criminal defense lawyers, public and private, has begun what is shaping up to be another impactful legislative session, fighting the good fight for defense lawyers and our clients. On June 5, 2019, members of the legislative committee and officers of CACJ assembled in Sacramento for in-person meetings with Assembly Members, State Senators and the Governor's office to lobby state lawmakers on important criminal justice legislation.
With less fanfare than it deserves, year after year CACJ carries the voices of thousands of private criminal defense attorneys, public defenders and their clients to state lawmakers, promoting criminal justice reform and blocking prosecutorial attempts to pass harmful legislation.
CACJ members spoke on a variety of criminal justice bills. Legislative topics included "flash incarceration" for probation violations, housing reimbursements and college fee waivers for exonerated prisoners, arrest record relief for wrongly accused individuals, transparency in police and prison personnel records, mandatory sentencing reductions, the right to a jury of your peers, and ignition interlock devices for first time DUI offenders, among others.
"The CACJ Legislative Committee enjoys a strong relationship with lawmakers as a result of their continuous advocacy work, " stated CACJ President Jacqueline Goodman.
Their June visit included meetings at the offices of Assembly Members Jones-Sawyer, Quirk-Silva, Wicks, Weber and Santiago, Senators Atkins, Beth-Jackson, Skinner and Weiner as well as the office of Governor Gavin Newsom and counsel for the California Assembly Public Safety Committee.
On that very day, in fact, CACJ, who started as the only voice in opposition to Senate Bill 238, defeated that bill which would have mandated drug testing all vehicular deaths. Specifically, the bill would expand testing requirements of persons who die in a motor vehicle accident to include cannabinoids (including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)), opioids including fentanyl, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, and related amphetamines, and cocaine. With CACJ's opposition and lobbying efforts, the bill was ultimately defeated by allied Assembly members in the committee.
We are living in a time of great promise in criminal justice reform, but it remains a continuous battle to protect the rights of individuals accused of crime, and generations of people who suffer from the effects of mass incarceration. CACJ is in the fight, day in, and day out.
You can join our fight, simply by becoming a member of CACJ. Besides all the other benefits to criminal defense practitioners, being a member of CACJ honors those who have been fighting for all of us since 1973. Join CACJ today at cacj.org.