Some laws deal with criminal penalties and policing, including further relaxing punishment to reduce mass incarceration and limiting police use of rubber bullets during protests.
Here’s a look at them:
Easing Criminal Penalties
California is taking additional steps to ease criminal penalties, building on a decade of efforts to reduce mass incarceration.
Among them, it is ending mandatory minimum prison or jail sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, thus giving judges more discretion to impose probation or other alternative sentences.
It is expanding on a 2019 law that limited the use of the felony murder rule, which previously allowed accomplices in felonies to be convicted of murder if someone died but now is restricted to people who intended to kill or directly participated.
And it is creating the presumption that those arrested on allegations of violating their probation be freed on their own recognizance unless a judge deems them to be a public safety or flight risk.
It is also limiting prison terms for those associated with street gangs, considering mitigating circumstances in applying sentencing enhancements, and retroactively removing other enhancements for repeat offenders and certain prior drug crimes.
Several laws that fizzled in 2020 despite national unrest over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer were signed into law in 2021.
They include measures limiting police use of rubber bullets against protesters and providing a way to decertify troubled officers, though some of the certification process doesn’t take effect until January 2023.
Other new laws bar a type of restraint hold that has led to deaths and specify when officers have a duty to intervene to prevent or report excessive force. Another expands the list of police misconduct records that must be made public.
The state also is increasing the minimum age to become a police officer from 18 to 21 and requiring the state attorney general to investigate all fatal shootings by police of unarmed civilians, including those where there is a reasonable dispute over whether that civilian was armed.
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