Gov Newsom Signs Sen Becker's Justice Reform Bill for Equitable Sentencing

SACRAMENTO — Today Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Better & Equitable Sentencing Through Thoughtful (BESTT) Practices Act 2.0, an important justice reform bill by Senator Josh Becker.

“My SB 775 closes an unjust loophole and brings greater fairness to our criminal justice system,” said Senator Becker, D-Peninsula.

SB 775 follows Senator Nancy Skinner’s landmark 2018 bill, SB 1437. Previously, California law allowed anyone committing a crime – even a misdemeanor –to be charged with murder if another participant caused someone’s death. People who never killed anyone, did not aid and abet the murder, and never intended for a death to occur could be charged with murder and get a life sentence in prison. SB 1437 enabled those individuals to petition for resentencing.

In approving the 2018 measure, the Legislature also created a pathway for people who took plea deals to lesser charges such as manslaughter to apply for resentencing, said Senator Becker. “However, some courts have since incorrectly limited its applicability only towards those who have been convicted of murder, but not less culpable offenses, like attempted murder and manslaughter,” he said.

SB 775 clarifies existing law to explicitly include voluntary manslaughter and attempted murder conviction as eligible for relief under SB 1437.

“This simple reform would assist hundreds of incarcerated people who have been excluded by the appellate courts’ technical interpretation of SB 1437, and the thousands of similar people who did not file petitions yet because of those rulings,” the California Public Defenders Association said in its letter to the Governor asking him to sign SB 775.

The California Public Defenders Association and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice partnered with Senator Becker on SB 775, which takes effect January 1, 2022.

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