Multiple Bills Co-Sponsored by Root & Rebound Signed into Law by Governor Gavin Newsom and Harmful SB 1262 Vetoed by the Governor
Reentry advocates emphasize importance of policy changes needed to reform parole and restitution, increase access to employment and housing; oppose harmful SB 1262
OAKLAND, Calif., September 30, 2022 — Root & Rebound, a reentry legal resource organization based in Oakland, Calif., thanks Governor Newsom for signing into law all of our six co-sponsored bills. We’re also grateful that Governor Newsom vetoed the harmful Senate Bill 1262. Root & Rebound takes a multi-pronged approach to reimagining how lawyers can support communities impacted by mass incarceration, incorporating advocacy and policy alongside its direct legal services and public education efforts.
In this vein, the organization has worked to reform critical components of state law as it relates to compassionate release and reentry after incarceration; the organization takes the same tireless approach to push for meaningful policy change, which today includes compassionate release, parole and restitution reform, and addressing unfair barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people.
“We applaud the Governor for recognizing the importance of removing barriers our clients and many formerly incarcerated people face from having a conviction history,” said Gail Yen, California Policy Director at Root & Rebound. “All impacts from barriers that people face post-incarceration compound on one another, and even reinforce each other. As a result, I’m proud of the efforts from the team and our partners to move these important policy changes forward and look forward to working together to ensure these changes are implemented fairly.”
Root & Rebound co-sponsored the following bills:
- AB 960 (Ting) expands the eligibility process for compassionate release. “From January 2015 to April 2021, 91 people died awaiting a compassionate release decision in California. There are 91 families who never got to see their loved ones again,” said Claudia J. Gonzalez, Central Valley Policy Associate at Root & Rebound. “AB 960 is our attempt to rectify that harm and ensure there is a better and more humane process in place in the state of California.” An AB 960 specific press release is available here.
- AB 1720 (Holden) speeds up the exemption process for qualified people with a minor conviction seeking community care licensure from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). With its passage, this bill eliminates the barrier of long months-long waiting periods that have prevented many people from moving into caring professions. Applicants, employers, and those in need of care all benefit from the passage of AB 1720.
- AB 1924 (Gipson) reduces barriers to employment for those sentenced to probation by streamlining the process to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation. It eliminates additional requirements and pitfalls for individuals facing probationary sentences. This would instead allow people convicted of less serious offenses to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation without the requirement of 1203.4 (expungement) relief.
- SB 990 (Hueso) amends the parole transfer practices for people with verified admission to postsecondary education institutions, job offer, housing, and family. While being on parole means people are no longer behind bars, it does not mean they are free to live as they please. People on parole are subject to a variety of strict rules and oppressive terms and conditions that are overbroad. Expanding relocation options by allowing people to transfer their parole to the county that corresponds with their educational or employment opportunity ensures that we continue to support successful transitions for formerly incarcerated people.
- SB 1055 (Kamlager) prohibits the Department of Child Support Services from seeking the denial, withholding, or suspension of a driver’s license from low-income child support obligors. California has incredibly high punitive measures in place for child support arrears. Taking away driver’s licenses robs low-income, non-custodial parents of the opportunity to earn income. For more information on the impact of SB 1055, read this guest commentary by another co-sponsor organization.
- SB 1106 (Wiener) ensures that outstanding restitution does not prevent a person from earning the opportunity for criminal relief. Inability to pay restitution and restitution fines should not impede a person’s ability to clear their records and secure employment, housing, and long-term stability upon reentry. Additionally, victims of crime who are awarded restitution overwhelmingly receive either nothing or a small percentage of the restitution, due to the person paying the restitution lacking the resources to actually pay it. For more information on the impact of SB 1106, read this article.
In addition, Root & Rebound strongly opposed and lobbied against SB 1262 (Bradford), which would have allowed the public to search electronic databases of criminal history information by a person’s date of birth or driver’s license number or both. We believe that a person’s criminal history information should not be instantaneous, cheap, and easy to get. SB 1262 jeopardized the protection of a person’s criminal history information and violates the person’s constitutional right to privacy. We thank Governor Newsom for recognizing this violation of privacy and upholding Root & Rebound’s litigation victory in All of Us or None-Riverside Chapter v. Hamrick, Jr. The Governor’s veto message is available here.
“There is no evidence that background checks improve public safety, but criminal history has a near-permanent impact on a person’s life. Denying easy access to the information online is only the first step in protecting everyone’s right to start a new life,” said Joshua Kim, Root & Rebound’s Director of Litigation.
Root & Rebound has a near decade-long history of advocating for meaningful and fair policy change. To date, the organization has co-sponsored and supported bills like AB 2845, reforming California’s pardon and commutations process, and AB 2293, which helps pave a path for incarcerated firefighters to become licensed EMTs after completing their sentences. Root & Rebound also served at the helm of a coalition of more than 50 organizations to pass AB 2138, which made the state professional licensing process more fair for people with records.
To learn more about Root & Rebound’s impact, please visit https://www.rootandrebound.org/.
About Root & Rebound
Root & Rebound is a national reentry organization with offices throughout California and South Carolina. We work to reverse the devastating effects of mass incarceration and over-criminalization and transform the experience of reentry by providing critical legal resources, education, and ongoing support to the individuals, families, and communities impacted.
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