Gov Newsom, Ensure Racial Justice for All

Sign AB 256

We must extend the protections of the Racial Justice Act to those already impacted by these decisions currently serving out unjust sentences. AB 256 will ensure that everyone is afforded the opportunity to pursue justice. These protections address:

  • Intentional bias directed at the defendant by an attorney, judge, juror, law enforcement officer or expert witness.
  • Racially coded language used in court, for example, prosecutors comparing the defendant to an animal in a closing argument.
  • Racial disparities in charges and convictions.
  • Racial disparities in sentences.

The Racial Justice Act for All will ensure that all Black, brown, and indigenous people have a path to challenge racist sentences – no matter how long ago it was. These individuals deserve justice and they have waited long enough!

Message Recipient:
Governor Gavin Newsom

Person holding sign that says "when the color of your skin is seen as a weapon"
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Far too many Californians have had their convictions and sentences upheld despite: Blatantly racist statements by attorneys, judges, jurors and expert witnesses; the exclusion of all, or nearly all Black or Latinx people from serving on a jury; and stark statistical evidence showing systemic bias in charging and sentencing.

These racial disparities are extreme. In California, Black men are 8 times more likely to be incarcerated than white men. Black women represent 30 percent of all incarcerated women in the US even though they only represent 13 percent of all women.

There is disparity in sentences as well, when Black men commit the same crime as white men, they receive a sentence that is on average 20 percent longer. Sixty-eight percent of people sentenced to life without parole in California are Black and people of color have accounted for 48 percent of total executions since 1976. Fifty-five percent of people sentenced to the death penalty are people of color.

The human costs are devastating, and the financial costs are staggering. The state spends over $55 million annually on challenges to death sentences, the cost to house one person on death row is $142,000 a year. Simply reducing racial disparities in the number of people sentenced to death compared to their white counterparts would save millions.

California's work is not done, everyone deserves equal justice under the law. Sign AB 256.


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