Legislation that Creates Judicial Guidance on Sentence Enhancements Goes to Governor for Signature

September 10, 2021

 There are now more than 150 sentence enhancements in the California Penal Code. Sentence enhancements are not elements of a crime; rather, they are additional circumstances that increase the penalty, or time served, of the underlying crime.

The California state Senate voted 23-11 on Thursday to approve Sen. Nancy Skinner’s SB 81, which would establish judicial guidance on the use of sentencing enhancements. SB 81 won approval yesterday in the state Assembly on a 46-24 vote. The legislation now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom for consideration.

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


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