Lawmakers OK California bill to create judicial guidelines for sentencing enhancements

September 10, 2021

A California bill to create a set of guidelines for courts that would curb the use of sentence enhancements in nonviolent offenses unless a judge determines that they are necessary to protect public safety has passed both the Assembly and Senate.

Now, SB 81, authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk. 

The bill is designed to address the proliferation of sentence enhancements in California, which can often double the length of years of a prison term and have been disproportionately applied to people of color and those suffering from mental illness. 

"If sentence enhancements were applied fairly, this wouldn’t be an issue," Skinner said. "However, data shows that in California, you are much more likely to receive a sentence enhancement if you are Black. SB 81 tells our courts: Let’s stop unfair sentences and use enhancements only when necessary to protect the public."


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