Home>Articles>Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Ending Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Many Non-Violent Drug Crimes
Scott Wiener
Senator Scott Wiener. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Ending Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Many Non-Violent Drug Crimes

Experts warn that SB 73 is likely to be challenged in court due to crime risks it brings

By Evan Symon, October 6, 2021 11:39 am

Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that ends mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes on Tuesday, giving judges more individual discretion on punishing criminals.

Senate Bill 73, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), ends the prohibition against probation and suspended sentencing for drug crimes, including possessing more than 14.25 grams of illegal drugs, agreeing to sell or transport opiates or opium derivatives, planting or cultivating peyote, some forging or altering prescription crimes, and other similar non-violent drug-related crimes.

According to SB 73, the bill would not end the ability of judges to administer mandatory minimum length jail sentences. It would also not end laws that require jail time for many other drug offenses or remove probation ineligibility for those who had previously committed drug felonies.

Senator Wiener wrote the bill earlier this year to better address drug addiction treatment and to stop mass non-violent crime imprisonments.

“Our prisons and jails are filled with people, particularly from communities of color, who have committed low-level, nonviolent drug offenses and who would be much better served by non-carceral options like probation, rehabilitation and treatment,” Wiener said in a statement on Tuesday. “It’s an important measure that will help end California’s system of mass incarceration.”

While opposed heavily by law enforcement groups, such as the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, due to mandatory minimums acting as a deterrent against drug use and drug related crimes, SB 73 narrowly passed both houses in the California legislature last month. In particular, the Assembly was only 4 votes away batting down the bill for the 4th time since 2018, with 42 voting in favor and 38 Republicans and Democrats not voting or voting “nay.”

Despite the large political divide over the bill, Newsom approved of the bill on Tuesday. Senator Wiener and supporters of the bill, such as drug treatment medical professionals and the California Public Defenders Association, celebrated the signing.

SB 73 signing met with praise, opposition

“The racist, failed War on Drugs has helped build our system of mass incarceration, and we must dismantle and end its vestiges, which are still in place today,” added Wiener in his statement. “War on Drugs policies are ineffective, inhumane and expensive. SB 73 ends mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, and gives judges more options to allow people to stay out of jail.”

In a tweet, the Senator added “Governor Newsom signed our legislation to end mandatory minimum jail sentences for non-violent drug offenses, SB 73. Mass incarceration of non-violent drug offenders hasn’t reduced drug use or addiction. Time for a new approach. Thx (sic), Governor, for this overdue step.”

However, law enforcement groups reiterated on Tuesday and Wednesday that the removal of mandatory minimums would lead to side effects such as an increase of drug use, a rise in drug sales, and a rise in drug-related crimes.

“SB 73 sets a dangerous precedent and would jeopardize the health and safety of the communities we are sworn to protect,” said the California Police Chiefs Association in response to the signing.

Others, such as former police officer James Rider, added that the end of mandatory minimums would likely spur lawsuits.

“All it is going to take is one horrific crime where someone who would have received a mandatory minimum either kills someone or goes after a cop, or something serious,” Rider told the Globe on Wednesday. “That’s a huge lawsuit waiting to happen. There might be some talk of challenges going in, but with a major crime attached then you have a case. Based on similar things sort of happening, like San Francisco’s new stance on crime that caused a huge crime wave to happen there, we’ll see such an incident happen sometime in early to mid 2022.”

“And this is bad. We know that this will trigger more drug-related crimes to happen, but we can’t do anything until something particularly bad happens that is tied to the end of mandatory minimums. We know there will be blood on their hands, yet did it anyway. As a former police officer who worked with his communities to prevent crime for years, this is heartbreaking.”

Barring a lawsuit, SB 73 is due to go into effect on January 1, 2022.

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15 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Ending Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Many Non-Violent Drug Crimes

  1. Why doesn’t CA just become a crime-free state, regardless of whatever crime is committed. I mean that’s the road we already are on, right???

    1. and what’s wrong with that road? People who commit crimes are doing so as a way of crying out. When society lets you down, turning to crime is sometimes the only way to survive. We have to look at ourselves and understand that we are responsible for society’s failings that lead some people to turn to crime.

  2. You know, if these lunatics were TRYING to kill people and create more victims of crime, which will only skyrocket higher because of this, they could hardly have done better than to write, pass, and sign this bill. Outrageous.

  3. Soon every criminal in the Us, or what’s left of it will move to California. No rent, free medical, no laws. The perfect haven for every deplorable in the US . They can get on disability and sell drugs on the side..if they need more, just steal 950 dollars worth from CVS and walk out. Hey while your at it, have sex with 12 year old’s, all legal here!

    1. Truth!
      California has become a lawless society.
      This is quickly becoming a dystopian hell hole!

    2. Exactly Karen! Criminals are welcome in CA to do as they please, free of charge, while the unvaccinated are the new age “criminals.” Stripping them of freedoms, employment, education, businesses, and medical care.

  4. Honestly, if the legislature can be in regular session, passing crazy bills like eliminating prison sentences for drug and other offenses, fine tuning labeling laws and nitpicking what kinds of plastics can and cannot be counted towards recycling quotas, I think the “state of emergency” is over and we can all get back to business.

    1. Seriously…

      This is the most important issue facing California???

      Meanwhile, no progress on additional water supply, etc…

  5. These people are lunatics and have never worked in the mess they have created! I was a Social Worker who worked in it day in and day out unlike these idiots and the only way to actually get people clean and sober is to get them out of their environment and detoxed involuntarily! Otherwise they continue to make the horrible choices because their bodies never get rid of the drug and their chemical addiction continues. Our hospitals are full of these people as they go there now instead of jail and then walk right on out. This is not humane, has absolutely nothing to do with their ridiculous “racial equity” crap and will actually just get more people of color killed as now these dirt bags will have no consequences and will reoffend, in their communities which is why we have all the gang violence etc….. it must be nice to make yourself feel good passing all these garbage laws without ever actually working in it day in and day out!

  6. Dope-boy Weiner rides again…

    This jackwagon reminds me of Spicoli…always high or thinking about drugs….

    Must be trying to escape his miserable, confused life…

  7. Democrat Senator Scott Wiener? Beware of the destructive NWO globalist agenda being pushed by a gay Jewish Harvard trained lawyer from the east coast?

  8. Such BS out of this Administration, how about issues that matter…
    Ships in Ports – drop the faux virus mandates and AB5, get inventory to market
    CRT/Child Vax/Masks – End this indoctrination, harm to children
    Fires – get those ‘game-changing’ helicopters, increased personnel with higher pay and resources over this
    Elections – Audit California, because WE KNOW they are anything but secure and accurate
    Electricity/Heat – Natural Gas, not Chyna-made Solar Panels that require coal; Wind Turbines that require
    tons of oil to make, only last 20+ years, and blades buried because they can’t be recycled
    Water Storage to meet agriculture needs
    Immigration – Costs California over $22 bil per year, Immigration is great, but Federal Laws are in place for a
    Why does Gavin Newsom never hold Town Hall meetings to to address the real issues?

    1. ^^^ Because then we’d all see what a stupid, stupid man he really is, and a WHOLLY-INEFFECTIVE “leader”…

      And this tool thinks that he’s capable of being PRESIDENT??? (Well, I guess if the current Vegetable-In-Chief can fake it, so could Governor Dippity-Doo)

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