California Bill Could Soon Require Judges To Consider Race In Sentencing

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A California bill could soon require judges to consider one’s race when determining the length of their prison sentence.

According to Fox News, Bill 852 was first introduced in February by Reggie Jones-Sawyer, the Democratic chair of the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee.

The bill would add a section to the Penal Code of California, requiring courts to consider race in sentencing in an effort to “rectify the racial bias” in the criminal justice system, which disproportionately impacts Black people and other minorities. The Assembly passed the measure in May, and it is now being considered in the state Senate.

“It is the intent of the Legislature to rectify the racial bias that has historically permeated our criminal justice system as documented by the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” the proposed new section to the Penal Code reads. “Whenever the court has discretion to determine the appropriate sentence according to relevant statutes and the sentencing rules of the Judicial Council, the court presiding over a criminal matter shall consider the disparate impact on historically disenfranchised and system-impacted populations.”

The introduction of Bill 852 comes after a California task force was created in 2020 to examine the possibility of doling out reparations as compensation for the long-lasting effects of slavery. The task force released its final recommendations for reparations last month, which will now be considered by the state legislature.

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