Contact your state senator today and tell them to support the Racial Justice Act!
For far too long, pervasive, structural racism has led to unfair convictions and disproportionately long sentences for Black and Brown people in our communities. California convictions and sentences are routinely upheld despite:
• Blatantly racist statements by attorneys, judges, jurors and expert witnesses;
• The exclusion of all, or nearly all, Black and Brown people from serving on a jury;
• Stark statistical evidence showing systemic bias in charging and sentencing.
It is time to fight back and address racial discrimination. We are hoping to do just that with the California Racial Justice Act, AB254 BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!
The Racial Justice Act asserts civil rights in the courtroom and prohibits the state from using discriminating means to seek or obtain a conviction or sentence. In the Act, we reject treating discrimination as harmless, and we provide guidance to the courts on how to address some of the discrimination we're seeing. AB 2542 addresses racially discriminatory behavior in the courtroom in a variety of ways. These include:
• Explicit bias against the defendant on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin – for example, racist texts from a police officer involved in a case.
• Bias at trial – such as comparing the defendant to an animal in closing arguments.
• Bias in jury selection – removing all or nearly all Black, Latino, Indigenous, people of color jurors from the trial.
• Disparities in charging – more severe charging of members of a race, ethnicity, or nationality.
• Disparities in sentencing – addressing the systemic over-representation of Black and Brown people among incarcerated folk.
How the Racial Justice Act would allow individual to challenge these types of discrimination: It would help correct the McCleskey v Kemp Supreme Court decision which places the burden-of-proof on the person experiencing discrimination to prove how it was deliberately against them. The Racial Justice Act says that the act of discrimination itself is evidence of bias and creates fault in the proceedings that needs to be addressed.
The Racial Justice Act is co-sponsored by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Asian Americans Advancing Justice - CA (AAAJ-CA), California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB), Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (EBC), League of Women Voters (LWV), NextGen, United Domestic Workers, AFSCME, Local 3930 (UDW).