Criminal Justice Reform Begins with Open Dialogue

Recently over 365,000 signatures were submitted in an effort to suspend the implementation of California’s Senate Bill 10.  The law would effectively eliminate cash bail in favor of a pretrial detention system based on risk assessment algorithms.   The bill, signed earlier this year, was to take effect October 2019, but a strong opposition backed with major financial support gathered enough signatures to trigger a referendum.  The referendum would place a hold on the law until voters could decide if the law should remain on the books.  Voters would see the measure on the 2020 ballot.  Opponents to SB10 instrumental in gathering the signatures for the referendum no await validation of those signatures.  If validated, California voters would make the ultimate decision of whether the measure should remain law.

Looking back at the attempts to overhaul California’s criminal justice system it becomes clear that legislators missed the mark.  When human rights groups that once fully supported the proposition, remove support due to last minute changes to the bill, you have to believe that something went terribly wrong.  Everyone can agree that there are inequities in the system.  There are racial biases that are deep-rooted throughout the country and the poor are often discriminated against by a system that long ago favored the wealthy.  The best path forward cannot be a simple bait and switch.  It takes transparency and an open-dialogue with all involved parties.  Everyone deserves a seat at the table to discuss how we can overhaul our criminal justice system without doing more harm than good.

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