SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego) today that would make improving public safety the primary purpose of criminal sentencing in California.
“It seems obvious that public safety would be our aim,” Weber said. “But current statute has punishment as the sole purpose of the sentences carried out by our justice and corrections systems. The result is that criminals come out of prison more criminalized than when they went in.
“With a 61 percent recidivism rate, we’re clearly on the wrong track.”
AB 2590 redefines the purpose of sentencing in criminal cases as public safety achieved through punishment, rehabilitation and restorative justice. Also known as the Restorative Justice Act, the bill will give judges the discretion to apply restorative justice principles in certain cases where the victims or their families consent to participate. This approach requires that offenders accept responsibility, acknowledge the harm to victims, make agreements to repair damage resulting from their actions, and clarify future intentions to reform.
The bill also makes the Legislature’s intent clear that educational, behavioral and rehabilitative programs should be available for inmates to facilitate their successful reintegration into society.
“The Governor’s signature on AB 2590 ensures that we will have a broader number of tools for making our communities safer,” Weber said.