Sac'to Bill Would Reduce Charges/Sentences For Shootings And Gun Related Crimes. Supporters Say Tough Gun Sentences Show Systemic Racism By Disproportionately Affecting People of Color
Councilmembers fail to discuss bill or its consequences in shooting-plagued Long Beach neighborhoods
Councilmembers fail to discuss bill or its consequences in shooting-plagued Long Beach neighborhoods /small>
(May 8, 2021, 5:05 p.m.) -- On April 27, the Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 6-2 to approve a bill that would significantly reduce sentences for shootings and multiple crimes committed using guns as proponents argued current tough gun-related prosecution enhancements and lengthy sentences show systemic racism, don't keep the public safe and disproportionately affect people of color.
AB 1509 (titled the "Anti-Racism Sentencing Reform Act" by Assembly Member Lee, co-authored by Assembly Members Carrillo, Kalra and Stone and state Senator Wiener) would repeal several firearm enhancements and reduce the penalty for using a firearm in committing various specified crimes (below) from 10 years, 20 years, or 25-years-to-life to one, two or three years. It also contains a retroactivity provision authorizing recall and resentencing for a person serving a term for these enhancements.
As currently amended, AB 1509 would:
1) Repeal the sentence enhancement for committing or attempting to commit a street gang crime while carrying a firearm.
[Scroll down for further.]
In the April 27 Assembly Committee hearing, AB 1509 supporters charged that current gun related enhancements (including "use a gun/go to prison" laws) display systemic racism by creating "mass incarceration" that disproportionately affects people of color. They said tough sentences for those who use guns in committing crimes haven't worked and don't keep the public safe.
In that respect, supporters of AB 1509 implicitly echo positions similar to those of L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon, now facing a recall (and non-binding votes of "no confidence" by some LA County cities) based in part on his refusal to apply multiple charging and sentencing enhancements (compare: AB 1509 focuses only on gun related enhancements.)
In opposition, El Dorado County's District Attorney noted AB 1509 isn't about enhancements generally but about gun enhancements specifically; said now is not the time to do so; and said AB 1509 would create a public safety disaster.
The April 27 Assembly Public Safety Committee vote (Yes: Bauer-Kahan, Jones-Sawyer, Lee, Quirk, Santiago, Wicks; No: Lackey, Seyartoto) sent AB 1509 to the Assembly Appropriations Committee (a non-policy fiscal committee (de facto majority Democrat leadership gatekeeper) which may act on the bill on May 12. The Appropriations Committee, chaired by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D, San Diego), could ultimately block the bill's advance or send it to the full Assembly for a floor vote.
Despite increased shootings (in mainly working class/historically disadvantaged areas of Central, North and West Long Beach), LB's policy setting City Council has failed to date to discuss the possible consequences of AB 1509 (introduced Feb. 19, 2021). The Council's advisory "Public Safety Committee" (now chaired by Councilwoman Suely Saro -- whose 6th district currently leads all others in shootings since Jan. 1, 2021) hasn't agendized AB 1509 for her Committee's discussion. Regardless of the Public Safety Committee's recommended action or continuing inaction, any City Councilmember can agendize a Council item to have the full Council take a policy position on the bill, pro or con.
On March 17, 2021, in response to increased shootings in Central LB, NLB and WLB, LBPD Chief Robert Luna sent the Mayor and Councilmembers a memo blaming increased shootings on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, not Council-thinned police levels...and didn't mention the potential effects of AB 1509. On April 20, 2021, the Council held a "study session" to hear what it called "Strategies for Addressing Violent Crime" which didn't discuss the potential effects of AB 1509.
As listed in the Public Safety Committee's legislative analysis, AB 1509 is supported by:
Anti-recidivism Coalition (Co-Sponsor) Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (Co-Sponsor) Blameless and Forever Free Ministries (Co-Sponsor), California United for A Responsible Budget (CURB) (Co-Sponsor) Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE) (Co-Sponsor) Dignity and Power Now (Co-Sponsor) Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (Co-Sponsor) Essie Justice Group (Co-Sponsor) Immigrant Legal Resource Center (Co-Sponsor) Initiate Justice (Co-Sponsor) Jesse's Place (Co-Sponsor) Kern County Participatory Defense (Co-Sponsor) Literacy Lab (Co-Sponsor) Ramsey’s Place Organization (Co-Sponsor) Re:store Justice (Co-Sponsor) Reentry Relief Project INC. (Co-Sponsor) Root & Rebound (Co-Sponsor) Rubicon Programs (Co-Sponsor) Safe Return Project (Co-Sponsor) Secure Justice (Co-Sponsor) Starting Over INC. (Co-Sponsor) The Place4grace (Co-Sponsor) The Transformative In-prison Workgroup (Co-Sponsor) UC Berkeley's Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) (Co-Sponsor) Underground Scholars Initiative (Co-Sponsor) Underground Scholars Initiative At the University of California, Irvine (Co-Sponsor) White People 4 Black Lives (Co-Sponsor) Ywca Berkeley/oakland (Co-Sponsor) ACLU California Action Asian Americans Advancing Justice - California Asian Prisoner Support Committee Asian Solidarity Collective California Attorneys for Criminal Justice California Coalition for Women Prisoners California for Safety and Justice California Public Defenders Association (CPDA) Cat Clark Consulting Services LLC Center for The Study of Racism, Social Justice, and Health Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ) Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto Creative Acts Criminal Justice Clinic, UC Irvine School of Law, Democratic Party of The San Fernando Valley Democratic Socialists of America - Los Angeles Fair Chance Project Felony Murder Elimination Project Freedom 4 Youth Fuel Heals Project- Helping End All Life Sentences Homies Unidos INC Ikar Legal Services for Prisoners With Children Mourning Our Losses No Justice Under Capitalism Pillars of The Community Pilot.com, INC. Pride in Truth Progressive Democrats for Social Justice Repeal California's Three Strikes Law Coalition Restaurant Opportunities Centers of California San Francisco Public Defender San Joaquin Pride Center San Jose State University Human Rights Institute Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Bay Area Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) San Diego Showing Up for Racial Justice North County Smart Justice California Team Justice The Everett Program At UC Santa Cruz Think Dignity Timelist Group Ucsf White Coats for Black Lives Uncommon Law United Communities for Peace Usc Suzanne Dworak Peck School of Social Work's Unchained Scholars We the People - San Diego Young Women's Freedom Center and 371 Letters/Statements of incarcerated individuals plus 242 private individuals
AB 1509 is opposed by:
The California District Attorneys Association, California Peace Officers Association, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Rifle and Pistol Association, INC. California State Sheriffs' Association Gun Owners of California, INC. Los Angeles Professional Peace Officers Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), Sacramento County District Attorney, San Diegans Against Crime, San Diego County District Attorney's Office, San Diego Deputy District Attorneys Association
The Assembly Public Safety Committee's Legislative Analysis states in pertinent part:
1) Author's statement: The Anti-Racism Sentencing Reform Act will rectify a relic of institutionalized racism by eliminating the use of most firearm enhancements and drastically reducing the enhancement in two Penal Code sections. Reducing the use of sentencing enhancements does not mean there are no punitive actions taken, but rather, the reduction aims to curtail the extreme sentencing lengths of people who are incarcerated. These sentencing enhancements have fueled mass incarceration for decades without deterring crime or making us any safer.
Argument in opposition:
According to the California State Sheriffs’ Association, "I regret to inform you that we are opposed to your measure, Assembly Bill 1509, which would eliminate specified firearm-related sentencing enhancements and reduce the available terms for other firearm enhancements. The bill would also permit resentencing for offenders who were sentenced under the current enhancement provisions.
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