Criminal Justice Reform
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Criminal justice reform is aimed at changing specific processes in the system to create greater fairness to those who are charged with or convicted of crimes. Various measures have been proposed and enacted to work toward achieving that goal, with many focusing on decreasing prison and jail populations, reducing penalties for specific crimes, and helping individuals released from incarceration readjust to society.
Criminal justice reform measures have a significant impact on many people's lives. At The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman, Attorney Jacqueline Goodman is a strong proponent of such policies and is dedicated to taking on cases that can help change laws.
One of the major focuses of criminal justice reform is on reducing prison sentences. Typically, this means making penalties less harsh for certain crimes.
Currently, there are 124,000 people in California's prisons and about 82,000 in its jails. The reason for the high prison and jail population in the state is likely due to a "harsh on crime" mentality that argued that the more severe punishments a person faces, the less likely they'll be to commit a criminal offense. Unfortunately, that's not completely accurate, and people are subjected unnecessarily lengthy incarceration sentences.
According to a report released by the National Institute of Justice, harsher penalties were not crime deterrents. It stated that if a person knows they're likely to be caught, they'll be less inclined to engage in criminal behavior. Additionally, time in prison can serve the opposite of its intended effect: Incarcerated individuals can learn from each other, and upon release, may be at an increased risk of committing a crime.
In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom approved a bevy of criminal justice reform bills, including the following aimed at incarceration sentences:
- SB 136, which eliminates the 1-year sentence enhancement for each prior felony conviction a person had
- AB 484, which removes the mandatory incarceration sentence for specific drug crimes
Bail Reform Measures
Depending on the circumstances, when a person is charged with a crime, they must remain in jail until their scheduled court date – unless they can be released on bail. Unfortunately, under this bail system, that meant people who couldn't afford the fee would have to remain in custody.
In 2018, then-Governor Jerry Brown passed a reform bill that would eliminate bail for people waiting for their trial. New processes would use an algorithm that assesses whether or not an individual is likely to return on their scheduled court date. However, the law has not been without controversy.
Society Re-Entry Reform
One of the biggest challenges a person faces after they've been released from prison is successfully re-entering society. Having a criminal record can make it tough to find a job, get housing, or even qualify for government benefits. In some cases, a person can have their criminal record expunged, which means it is blocked from public access. However, this requires filing a petition with the court. A new reform measure automates this process, allowing qualifying offenses to be automatically sealed.
Contact The Law Office of Jacqueline Goodman Today
Attorney Jacqueline Goodman fights hard to ensure that individuals facing criminal allegations receive fair trials.