The California state legislature is considering a bill that would allow judges to use sentencing in criminal cases to “rectify racial bias” in the criminal justice system as a whole.
The bill, AB 852, passed the State Assembly in May and is currently going through the committee process in the State Senate. It notes that existing law already allows defendants to challenge their sentences as racially biased, but it would add that judges can consider race in sentencing.
The bill was introduced in February by State Rep. Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) and is intended as part of the “reparations” package recently proposed by a state panel to the legislature.
SECTION 1. Section 17.3 is added to the Penal Code, to read:
17.3. (a) It is the intent of the Legislature to rectify the racial bias that has historically permeated our criminal justice system as documented by the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.
(b) Whenever the court has discretion to determine the appropriate sentence according to relevant statutes and the sentencing rules of the Judicial Council, the court presiding over a criminal matter shall consider the disparate impact on historically disenfranchised and system-impacted populations.
It is unclear whether the law is constitutional under either the California’s state constitution, which bars the state from using race for the purposes of affirmative action, or under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The law also does not specify whether allowing judges to “rectify racial bias” would allow them to impose lighter sentences on black and Latino defendants, or tougher sentences on white and Asian defendants.
California is already suffering from a crime wave that is partly the result of more lenient prosecution by reform-minded district attorneys, many of them backed by spending by far-left billionaire political donor George Soros.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.