SACRAMENTO —California Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law a key piece of drug reform legislation known as AB 1352 to help protect communities of color, including immigrants, from unjust consequences of the criminal justice system. At the same time, the Governor vetoed another measure, AB 1351, which would have brought further reforms to sentencing for certain drug crimes and limited disproportionate consequences for immigrants.
The two laws, AB 1351 and 1352, were cosponsored by the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center and authored by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton).
The following statement is from Angie Junck, Supervising Attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
“We’re pleased the Governor signed a key piece of legislation to reform sentencing for certain drug crimes, but his veto of another important measure means immigrant families will continue to suffer devastating consequences from drug possession crimes for which they are seeking treatment. For those families and California’s immigrant community – additional reforms are still necessary.
“Under the governor’s leadership, the state has led the nation on criminal justice and immigration reforms – but there is still more to be accomplished. We’re disappointed that the Governor failed to sign both bills at this time, but encouraged that California and other states will continue to pursue reforms that save lives, save money, and strengthen our communities.”
According to a recent report from Human Rights Watch, deportations of noncitizens, including green card holders (lawful permanent residents), whose most serious conviction was for a drug offense rose 22 percent from 2004 to 2012. That number spiked by 43 percent for non-citizens with convictions for simple drug possession in particular, regardless of plea deals or successful completion of rehabilitation programs.
Additional Background AB 1351 (VETOED) and AB 1352 (SIGNED):
The Deferred Entry of Judgment: Pretrial Diversion bill (AB 1351), vetoed by Brown, would have allowed people charged with simple possession or other related drug offenses to successfully complete a treatment programbefore pleading guilty – thus avoiding the disproportionate federal punishments, including deportation for immigrants. This patches a hole in the current system, enabling people to be participating and productive members of the community. For immigrants, that means a focus on rehabilitation, not deportation.
The Deferred Entry of Judgment: Withdrawal of Plea bill (AB 1352) signed by Brown, will allow a person who has successfully completed deferred entry of judgment and had his or her case dismissed, to withdraw his or her original guilty plea, which will protect them from draconian federal consequences, including deportation for legal permanent residents.
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The ILRC’s mission is to work with and educate immigrants, community organizations, and the legal sector to continue building a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people.