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SF Public Defender Co-Sponsoring State Bills to Increase Fairness and Disrupt Cycles of Harm in Our Criminal Legal System

Bill package seeks to increase fairness in jury trials and outcomes of criminal legal proceedings for youth, immigrants, and survivors

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Public Defender’s Office announces the co-sponsoring of four key state bills during the 2023 legislative session to increase fairness and racial equity in the criminal legal system.

“We are proud to unveil a priority bill package that furthers our mission to fiercely defend our clients, confront state violence, and advocate for community power,” said Mano Raju, the elected Public Defender of San Francisco. “These bills will make urgent system changes that advance our vision for a more just and equitable society.”

Be The Jury CA AB 881 (Ting) will expand on the successful San Francisco pilot program to increase racial and economic diversity of juries – to better reflect the demographics of the community – by increasing compensation to $100/day for low- to moderate-income jurors in criminal trials. It also removes the statewide $15/day cap on civil juror pay to give courts the flexibility to increase compensation to jurors in civil matters.  

The HOME Act AB 1306 (Carrillo) will ensure that immigrants and refugees are not excluded from benefiting from recent criminal justice reforms that have already been signed into state law, simply based on their place of birth. Specifically, it will prevent the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from transferring individuals who have earned release through these reforms to federal immigration authorities. This will ensure equal application of the law, and keep immigrant families together. 

The Justice for Survivors Act AB 1497 (Haney) will allow survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, or sexual violence to be protected from unjust convictions and sentences and to vacate prior convictions. Under current law, only those survivors charged with or convicted of non-violent offenses can raise their history of exploitation and violence to affirmatively defend against convictions, vacate old convictions, or advocate for a reduced sentence. Black and Latinx survivors are more likely to face much harsher charges and sentences for protecting themselves and their loved ones against their abusers or traffickers. This bill extends those provisions to all offenses.

The REPAIR Act AB 1186 (Bonta) will end the harmful practice of saddling youth with restitution orders they and their families cannot pay, and compensate community members who experience harm through a state-funded compensation program so they can be made whole. Youth will have opportunities to participate in community service, restorative justice, or personal development programs to facilitate healing and accountability in place of punitive restitution orders.   

“Our priority bill package this year is focused on promoting racial and economic justice, disrupting cycles of harm to system-impacted community members, and reducing incarceration,” said Melanie Kim, State Policy Director for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. “We and our coalition partners around the state look forward to these bills passing through the legislature and being signed into law by Governor Newsom this year.”



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