Over the last several weeks, President Obama has commuted the sentence of nearly 90 inmates, mostly nonviolent drug offenders. His actions have sparked a number of conversations about America’s prison problem and caused many state officials to question whether or not we are doing it “right.” California’s governor, Jerry Brown, recently joined the conversations in a call for reform to the fixed-sentencing laws he implemented three decades ago, indicating that more change is now needed.
The Sad State of the American Justice System
The United States is home to only five percent of the world’s population, yet it houses 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. An alarming percentage of those inmates are nonviolent offenders who, for all intents and purposes, have no real reason for being separated from society in the long term. But it is their continued imprisonment that strains our system, making it more and more difficult to ensure that dangerous criminals—those found guilty of violent, heinous, or serious crimes—are behind bars.
California’s Aim at Sentencing Reform
Three decades ago, the prison world was very different; minorities were singled out, often denied parole, even if they had the exact same conditions and behavior as white inmates. The reform put into place by Governor Brown was aimed at stopping such discrimination for minorities, but he says the decision has played itself out. Now, California’s prisons are over-run with long-stay offenders, and it is putting unnecessary strain on the state’s taxpayers.
To rectify this situation, Governor Brown wishes to take an approach similar to that of President Obama’s—reduce prison terms for those that have been convicted of nonviolent crimes—only with a bit more alteration: he wishes to give power back to the parole board when it comes to releasing prisoners earlier than their sentence terms.
California Faces Many Challenges in Making Reform Happen
Though reform could potentially reduce the amount of taxes being allocated to state prisons, there are a number of challenges that politicians will face in trying to make reform happen, namely accusations that they are jeopardizing public safety. For this reason, there will need to be a great deal of consideration when determining what the next steps to reform may be.
Facing Criminal Charges? Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney
Regardless of whether or not reform actually happens (or how long it takes), it can be extremely beneficial for those facing criminal charges to seek the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Dedicated to helping you understand and defend your rights, the Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich can help you in your criminal charges case. To receive your free consultation with an experienced California criminal defense attorney, call (408) 898-9770 today.