The California State Senate is considering a bill backed by Democrats that would require judges to take convicted criminals’ race into account when sentencing them to prison.
The bill was quietly introduced in the State Assembly in February and passed in May.
“It is the intent of the Legislature to rectify the racial bias that has historically permeated our criminal justice system as documented by the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” the proposed new section of the California Penal Code reads.
“Whenever the court has discretion to determine the appropriate sentence according to relevant statutes and the sentencing rules of the Judicial Council, the court presiding over a criminal matter shall consider the disparate impact on historically disenfranchised and system-impacted populations.”
Black men make up 13% of the population but 35% of the incarcerated. But should an Asian man who commits the same crime as a Black man get a stiffer sentence because of his race?
As U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a ruling in 2007 striking down race-based “tiebreakers” in school admissions, “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Late last month, when the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admission, Mr. Roberts echoed himself, writing: “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”
Still, California — the most populous state in the nation — seems to disagree and wants to rip off Lady Justice’s blindfold.
The sentencing legislation is part of the 1,000-page report made by the aforementioned California Task Force, commissioned by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 to address and remedy the Golden State’s perceived systemic racism. Its recommendations were completed in late June.
In addition to sentencing reform, the task force found the minimum dollar amount of racial harm the Golden State has done to Black Californians is at least $1 million per eligible resident. The report also recommends ending cash bail and the prosecution of low-level crimes statewide.
What could possibly go wrong?
A recent study published by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office found zero-bail policies have “horrific” effects on public safety, Fox News reported.
Criminal suspects released without bail reoffended 70% more often than those who posted bail and were rearrested on 163% more charges, the study found. In addition, suspects released without bail were accused of three times as many violent crimes.
This, as nearly half of retailers have fled downtown San Francisco, as rampant shoplifting, petty and violent crime, and drug use have plagued the city. Since 2019, 47% of businesses have closed, according to the San Francisco Standard. Last month, the city’s mall, the Westfield San Francisco, said it would shutter operations, citing “unsafe conditions for customers, retailers and employees” downtown.
Some 77% of the City by the Bay’s residents believe it is on the wrong track, and only 30% said they felt safe at night downtown, according to a May survey commissioned by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Still, the liberal ruling class in California is more concerned with solving racial inequality than they are with ensuring public safety.
Requiring judges to take race into account when doling out sentences, eliminating cash bail, and refusing to prosecute low-level crimes — if codified by the state Senate — will only make California’s crime story worse, not better.
It will also do nothing to eliminate its residents’ so-called systemic racism. A colorblind society will be achieved only when we can look beyond color.