This past weekend, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law, the California Fair Sentencing Act (SB 1010), legislation designed to reform the state’s drug sentencing laws to help end the disparities for communities of color who all too often face harsher penalties under the Golden State’s justice system.
SB 1010, which NCLR co-sponsored, will reduce the penalties for the sale of crack cocaine to two years, the same levels as those for powdered cocaine. Under previous sentencing guidelines, people of color often received longer prison sentences for selling crack cocaine. In fact, between 2005 and 2010, Latinos accounted for 20 percent of those serving time for possession with intent to sell crack, blacks accounted for more than 75 percent. With SB 1010 set to take effect in January, sentencing for the two offenses will be equalized and judges will be granted more discretion in sentencing someone to probation.
Gov. Brown, as well as the bill’s sponsors, State Sen. Holly Mitchell and State Sen. Ricardo Lara, are all to be commended for their efforts in making sure all Californians are treated equally under the law.
“For years California’s judicial system has been unfair to some of our most vulnerable socioeconomic communities, and too often it targets people of color,” said NCLR Vice President, California Region Delia de la Vara in a statement. “Today’s progress is a direct result of community leaders, nonprofit organizations and families working together for a just sentencing law. Though we celebrate this incredible accomplishment, we recognize that more work is needed to build a stronger community.”