Criminal Justice Observation, Education and Advocacy

Criminal Justice Observation, Education and Advocacy

criminal justice recruit
VOTER SERVICES        JOIN US              OBSERVER CORPS          CRIMINAL JUSTICE
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION                  CLIMATE CHANGE                 NEWS

Criminal Justice bills passed in California

First, Assembly Bill 3070, supported by the League, would limit the removal of prospective jurors without cause, a change intended to prevent discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin or religious affiliation.  This bill changes the process by shifting the burden of proof from the attorney objecting to the peremptory challenge to the attorney who removed the prospective juror.

Secondly, AB 2542, seeks to counter a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held defendants must prove intentional discrimination in arguing bias affected the legal process in their case. Under the bill, defendants would be allowed to file a motion in trial court or petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and attempt to vacate a conviction or sentence to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that an attorney, law enforcement officer, juror, judge or expert witness exhibited bias or used discriminatory language about their race, ethnicity or national origin. Defendants would also be allowed to show that they were charged or convicted of a more serious offense, or were given a more severe sentence than defendants of other races in similar circumstances, among other discriminatory actions. A defendant could also argue that jurors were eliminated based on discrimination in jury selection.

Voting Rights Tool Kit and more...

Most of the 82,000 people in California’s jails still have the right to vote, but without support it can be almost impossible for them to cast their votes while incarcerated.  With this toolkit, you can help change that. This project is a collaboration between the League of Women Voters of California with other organization.  Join this webinar to learn more on August 27, 2020.

The League on Black Lives Matter

 

The League of Women Voters of the United States issued a statement in reference to the death of George Floyd (complete statement.):

6/2/2020. LWVUS joined a letter with over 400 civil rights organizations calling on Congress to implement needed policing reforms.  The letter urges congressional leadership to swiftly rectify the legacy of white supremacy and anti-black racism that has led to police violence against Black people across our country.

We call on Congress to adopt legislative measures to ensure that police officers live up to their oath to protect and serve.

Sacramento League Engagement

  • Joint Press Release: LWVSC and Black Women Organized for Political Action 6/8/20

    The League of Women Voters of the United States and of California have issued statements in alliance with the Black community and civil rights movement as our moral imperative and fundamentally tied to our mission of empowering voters and defending democracy.

  • Board of Supervisors: Emergency Declaration 6/4/20 LWVSC letter

  • City of Sacramento: Notice of Intent to Observe Police Review Commission Meetings 9/30/19 LWVSC Letter 

 Sacramento County names new OPSA Director

Sacramento City Council approved the hiring of Dr. LaTesha Watson as the new director of the Office of Public Safety and Accountability.  See the Sacramento League work on Criminal Justice.

Sacramento League Priority

The League of Women Voters of Sacramento County (LWVSC) approved a Criminal Justice Reform program based on the consensus position of the State League (June 2019).

In August 2019, the LWVSC Criminal Justice Reform Committee began to focus on: 

    1. Supporting Criminal Justice Legislation endorsed by the LWVC and recommending support on key legislation of local interest;
    2. Establishing Observer Corps for:
    • Sacramento County Board of Supervisor (Sherriff Accountability)
    • City of Sacramento Police Review Commission
    • City of Sacramento City Council Meetings (Police Accountability)
    • District Attorney, Grand Jury

3.  Community Collaboration, education and advocacy.

New members are welcome to assist us in developing and meeting our action plans. 

Please contact the Norma Nelson, criminaljusticechair [at] lwvsacramento.org (Committee Chair), (916) 447-8683, criminaljusticechair [at] lwvsacramento.org 

Observer Corps Reports: Law and Justice

County of Sacramento

Sacramento League Education

ADVOCACY

League of Women Voters of California Position

Position in Brief: 

The LWV California supports:

  • a criminal justice system that is just, effective, equitable, transparent, and that fosters public trust at all stages, including policing practices, pre-trial procedures, sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry;
  • the elimination of systemic bias, including the disproportionate policing and incarceration of marginalized communities;
  • policing practices that promote safety for both law enforcement officers and the communities they serve;
  • collaboration between government and community throughout every stage of the criminal justice system;
  • a focus on humane treatment and rehabilitation with the goal of promoting the successful re-entry into communities of those who have been incarcerated; and
  • reliance on evidence-based research in decision-making about law-enforcement programs and policies (including scheduled, periodic audits of program and policy effectiveness).
    (2019 League of Women Voters of California Convention)

Detailed Position

US League takes a stand....

The League of Women Voters of the United States issued a statement in reference to the death of George Floyd.

. . . As an organization whose mission is to empower voters and defend democracy, we stand in solidarity with all Black communities. The League shall do so not only by speaking out against racism in all forms, but by doing the work required of us to be anti-racist. We are committed to listening to and amplifying Black voices, and educating ourselves and our children on the historic and ongoing systemic racism that plagues this country . . . .  (See complete statement on the LWVUS web page.)

The League of Women Voters of the United States and of California have issued statements in alliance with the Black community and civil rights movement as our moral imperative and fundamentally tied to our mission of empowering voters and defending democracy.

6/2/2020. LWVUS joined a letter with over 400 civil rights organizations calling on Congress to implement needed policing reforms.  The letter urges congressional leadership to swiftly rectify the legacy of white supremacy and anti-black racism that has led to police violence against Black people across our country.

League Joins Partners Calling for Congressional Action on Police Violence

We call on Congress to adopt the following legislative measures to ensure that police officers live up to their oath to protect and serve:

  1. Require a federal standard that use of force be reserved for only when necessary as a last resort after exhausting reasonable options, and incentivize states through federal funding mechanisms to implement this standard; require the use of de-escalation techniques, and the duty to intervene; ban the use of force as a punitive measure or means of retaliation against individuals who only verbally confront officers, or against individuals who pose a danger only to themselves; and require all officers to accurately report all uses of force;
  2. Prohibit all maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force, deeming the use of such force a federal civil rights violation;
  3. Prohibit racial profiling, and require robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities. Data should capture all demographic categories and be disaggregated;
  4. Eliminate federal programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement;
  5. Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants, especially for drug searches;
  6. Change the 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242 mens rea requirement from willfulness to recklessness, permitting prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable for the deprivation of civil rights and civil liberties;
  7. Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies in the United States and its territories, similar to the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training’s National Decertification Index,12 which would compile the names of officers who have had their licenses revoked due to misconduct, including but not limited to domestic violence, sexual violence, assault and harassment, criminal offense against minors, excessive use of force, violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242; perjury, falsifying a police report or planting and destroying evidence, and deadly physical assault; as well as terminations and complaints against the officers; and 
  8. End the qualified immunity doctrine which prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law. Qualified immunity, a defense that shields officials from being sued, has been interpreted by courts so broadly that it allows officers to engage in unconstitutional acts with impunity.