California’s Newsom Signs Bill To Offer Alternative Plea For Those Facing Drug Charges

California Governor Gavin Newsom has drawn praise from drug reform advocates after he signed a bill last month that would create alternative petition options for individuals facing certain drug convictions.

Entitled the “Alternative Defense Act,” the law allows prosecutors to file indecent pleas against some defendants charged with drug-related crimes.

As the Drug Policy Alliance explains, “Public nuisance petitions are subject to the same criminal penalties as charged drug offenses, but have no collateral consequences.”

“This petition option allows individuals to resume their lives after imprisonment without precluding them from securing housing or employment.” The group said in a press release last month.

Under the law, prosecutors can make indecent allegations at their discretion. The bill, dubbed “the nation’s first proposal,” was sponsored by Democrat Rep. Reggie Jones Sawyer. The Drug Policy Alliance said the measure “will serve as a model for other states to follow and reduce harsh consequences for drug convictions.”

“Whether noncitizens, legal permanent residents, and California-born Californians can sue for public indecency rather than drug offenses can make the difference between family separation and an opportunity to sort out life’s problems. “There is a lot of potential,” said Jones-Sawyer. Said in a statement last month. “Under current law, judges and attorneys have limited options to avoid overly harsh sentences and devastating collateral effects on individuals and their families. AB 2195 will provide prosecutors with additional resources to seek appropriate sentencing in certain drug-related cases, protecting California residents, including noncitizens, and their families from lifelong consequences.”

California lawmakers passed an alternative petition law in August, urging supporters to sign the bill to Newsom, a Democrat widely believed to harbor White House aspirations.

and letter Alison Leal-Parker, managing director of the U.S. program at Human Rights Watch, urged the governor, who was dispatched in August, to get Newsom to sign the bill. say it It said it would “help mitigate some of the devastating side effects resulting from widespread racist drug law enforcement in states and countries.”

“If the proposed bill becomes law, prosecutors will be able to exercise their discretionary powers to prevent or mitigate collateral consequences of drug convictions, such as eviction from a residence, significant resources, denial of professional licenses, and denial of parental rights, etc. California’s policy is to facilitate the successful readmission and rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes, but Convictions for public nuisance may still be considered in all these situations, but less absolute penalties and prohibitions on services and resources. ‘, Parker wrote in the letter.

After Newsom signed the bill into law last month, Janet Zanipatin, state director of California’s Drug Policy Alliance, said the law demonstrates “California’s commitment to continuing to eradicate the war on drugs from people’s lives.” Stated.

“The severity and prevalence of drug convictions is devastating to the life prospects of individuals and their families, limiting access to safety nets and allowing people to access the basics of family, employment, and life. For immigrants, almost any drug law violation, including minor drug offenses, can automatically subject them to ICE detention and deportation.” Zanipatin said, adding that the law would “help stop the drug war’s obsession with continuous punishment and help keep people from becoming criminals.” are excluded from access to the resources needed for immigration” and “creating an important tool to prevent unnecessary exclusion from immigrant families and, in many cases, permanent expulsion.”

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