CA bill is pretty clear: A judge 'shall' consider race in sentencing

CA bill is pretty clear: A judge 'shall' consider race in sentencing

CA bill is pretty clear: A judge 'shall' consider race in sentencing

A controversial bill in California, well on its way to becoming a new state law, would require a criminal court judge to sentence defendants based on their race in order to “rectify” racial bias.

Assembly Bill 852 passed that Democrat-dominated chamber in a lopsided 58-13 vote in May. It is now in the California Senate where it is expected to pass in that Democrat-majority chamber, too.

Citing a history of “bias” in the criminal justice system, the bill states a court “shall consider the disparate impact on historically disenfranchised and system-impacted populations.”

The bill also credits the California reparations task force, which was formed in 2020, for documenting the state’s history of racial bias in the courts.

Zack Smith, legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, says the bill is not only unconstitutional but immoral, too.

"Imagine that a law,” he says, “would require a judge to consider a defendant's race and potentially enhancing a sentence, or giving a harsher sentence, because of their race.”

Based on its language and stated purpose, Assembly Bill 852 would accomplish that in reverse if, for example, a black man and a white man commit an armed robbery together. The minority defendant would receive a lighter sentence according to the language in Bill 852. 

The bill is opposed by Concerned Communities for America, a right-leaning outreach group for blacks and Hispanics. In a statement, the group said called the bill a "terrible and dangerous idea" that reverses "decades of progress toward racial equality and equal treatment under the law." 

Bill 852 was introduced by State Assembly member Reginald Jones-Sawyer, who is black. He introduced the legislation as chair of the Public Safety Committee, where he has introduced other crime bills in past sessions related to race and racism.

Smith, Zack Smith

The state lawmaker represents the 59th District, which includes South Los Angeles where whites and blacks are 25% and 28% of the population respectively. Hispanics are 38%, according to L.A. County statistics.

In a related Fox News story about Bill 852, a Republican lawmaker said justice should be color blind.

“Our justice system is intended to focus on accountability for behavior without racial considerations," Assembly member Tom Lackey told Fox News. ""The voice of victims and any potential repercussions for public safety should be our highest consideration when making decisions that directly impact California communities."