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California legislation targets mandatory minimum sentences

Mass incarceration plagues the United States in general as the number one country in terms of prisoner population. It impacts public health and costs states millions of dollars to upkeep.

Each state needs to tackle this issue in its own way and according to The Davis Vanguard, California legislation seeks to remove mandatory jailtime laws for nonviolent drug crimes.

The law’s impact on judges

One of the arguments for this piece of legislation regarded how the current law disallows Californian judges from sentencing a person to probation after the second nonviolent drug crime charge. The new legislation seeks to expand that leeway so that a judge may use his or her own discretion on a case-by-case basis to order probation or rehabilitative solutions.

The law’s impact on minorities

According to the report, the harshest of these laws fell into place at the height of the war on drugs and negatively impacted communities of color. Proponents of the bill insisted that the current system of disproportionately incarcerating black and brown people is “simply not working.”

The law’s impact on infrastructure

In light of further budget cuts and California’s recent economic recession, the maintenance costs for these charges and sentences are expensive. The report claims removing these mandatory minimums may save the state upwards of millions of dollars.

The law’s impact now

This legislation recently passed The California Assembly Public Safety Committee and now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee to review. It is unknown if or when this may see ratification by the legislature. In the meantime, these mandatory minimums still deeply impact people accused of drug crimes. It is important for anyone to understand current drug laws and penalties in case they face nonviolent drug crimes.