AB 2200 would establish the California Racial Justice Act (Act) which would prohibit the state from seeking or obtaining a criminal conviction, or from imposing a sentence, based upon race, ethnicity or national origin. Specifically, the Act would make it possible for a person charged or convicted of a crime to challenge racial bias in their case, as shown through evidence of:
- Explicit racial bias by an attorney, judge, law enforcement officer, expert witness, or juror involved in the case.
- Use of racially discriminatory language in court and during the criminal proceedings, whether or not intentional.
- Racial bias in jury selection, such as removing all or nearly all people of color from the jury.
- Statistical disparities in charging and convictions – that is, evidence that people of one race are is proportionately charged or convicted of a specific crime or enhancement.
- Statistical disparities in sentencing – that is, evidence that people of one race receive longer or more severe sentences, including the death penalty or life without parole.
It is time for California to prohibit the use of race and ethnicity as a factor in the state’s justice system across the board. Further, California's Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits racial discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation. It is time to establish a statewide policy that makes it unlawful to discriminate against people of color in the state’s criminal justice system.
The California Racial Justice Act will take a clear and profound step towards establishing a clear prohibition on the use of race, ethnicity or national origin in seeking or obtaining convictions or sentences.
- American Friends Service Committee
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
- CA Coalition for Women Prisoners
- Californians United for a Responsible Budget
- League of Women Voters of California
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PHOTO CEREDIT: Courtney Hanson