Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday to allow the criminal arrest records of convicted criminals sealed from potential employers, schools, charitable organizations and the public.
According to SB 731 author Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), “Due to the widespread usage of background checks in today’s society, the availability of these records activate thousands of barriers for one quarter of the state’s population resulting in chronic housing insecurities, long-term unemployment, and widespread lack of civic participation.”
This is interesting timing as Gov. Newsom has also been authorizing the release of thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals from prisons – so many that Susanville state prison was recently closed.
The Associated Press reported in May 2021:
California is giving 76,000 inmates, including violent and repeat felons, the opportunity to leave prison earlier as the state aims to further trim the population of what once was the nation’s largest state correctional system.
More than 63,000 inmates convicted of violent crimes will be eligible for good behavior credits that shorten their sentences by one-third instead of the one-fifth that had been in place since 2017. That includes nearly 20,000 inmates who are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole.
Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen, who once headed the state parole board, criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration for unilaterally deciding to make the changes.
It makes sense that California is home to the nation’s largest state correctional system as the state is also home to the largest population in the country – nearly 40 million state residents.
AB 731 provides that the Attorney General’s California Department of Justice will be reviewing the records in the statewide criminal databases and identify persons with criminal records eligible for the sealed records.
The Peace Officers Research Association of California opposed the bill stating:
Current law authorizes a defendant who was sentenced to a county jail for the commission of a felony and who has met specified criteria to petition to withdraw their plea of guilty or nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty after the completion of their sentence. Current law requires the court to dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and release them from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense, except as specified. This bill would make this relief available to a defendant who has been convicted of any felony.
PORAC believes that by expanding the relief of penalties for all felonies, we are placing our communities at risk. Oftentimes, felony crimes are violent and leave behind innocent victims whose lives will never be the same. By allowing violent criminals back on the street, with their record dismissed, they will have less deterrent to commit another crime. Thus, leaving more victims in their wake.
Was anyone listening?
SB 731 will not won’t apply to anyone convicted of murder, kidnap or rape. It also will not interfere with felonies requiring a sex offender to register on the state database.
The bill was passed along party lines, and signed into law by the governor who is letting 76,000 convicted criminals out of prison.
As the AP reported, “Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation that represents crime victims, said the notion that the credits are for good behavior is a misnomer.”
“You don’t have to be good to get good time credits. People who lose good time credits for misconduct get them back, they don’t stay gone,” he said. “They could be a useful device for managing the population if they had more teeth in them. But they don’t. They’re in reality just a giveaway.”
SB 731 was sponsored by Californians for Safety and Justice “supported by a group of philanthropic foundations dedicated to replacing over-incarceration with new safety priorities, including Ford Foundation, Fund for Nonviolence, Open Society Foundations, Public Welfare Foundation, Rosenberg Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, and The Butler Family Fund” – all part of the de-incarceration “reform” movement, which ignores the victims of the crimes.
Many of these progressive groups are funded by liberal billionaire George Soros (Open Society Foundations) – Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Californians for Safety and Justice, and Prosecutors Alliance of California—support defunding police departments, declining to prosecute most criminals, and seeking the shortest possible sentences for those who are prosecuted.
“Californians for Safety and Justice was a major supporter of California’s Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, which has left drug dealers, addicts, and thieves in communities to commit smash and grab robberies and violent attacks, including murders,” according to the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
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