The Revolutionizing Impact of AB 1245

  1. History of AB 1245
  2. Status of the AB 1245

History of AB 1245

Prosecutors and defendants alike have long recognized excessive prison sentences as a plague to the modern criminal justice system. National statistics report that 1 out of 6 people incarcerated in state prisons have been behind bars for more than a decade. Now, a history of harsh and extreme sentencing has left the US with record high incarceration rates.

Several states have attempted to address the issue by instituting policies that aim to reduce the number of people serving excessively long sentences for low-level offenses. Some state legislative agendas include implementing presumptive parole programs, enhancing “good time” credit policies, and passing legislation that allows for a “second look” at needlessly lengthy sentences. Despite such efforts, little has been accomplished to help provide relief to those facing the brunt of this incarceration epidemic.

AB 1245 however attempts to change all that. This revolutionary bill will achieve the reform many have been yearning for. Introduced into the California legislature in early 2021, AB 1245 will amend the resentencing processes and procedures established by AB 2942 in 2018.

AB 2942 revoked the exclusive authority given to the Parole Board to revisit excessive sentences. Instead, the law stipulated that people serving sentences of 15 years to life must receive a recommendation from the District Attorney (DA) or California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) before petitioning the court for resentencing. This change to California law created major inefficiency in the criminal justice system and became a large institutional barrier to achieving post-conviction relief.

AB 1245 completely revises the provision posed in AB 2942 by eliminating the role of the DA or CDCR as a link between the defendant and the court. Rather this proposed assembly bill will provide people serving sentences of 15 years to life the opportunity to directly petition the court for resentencing, without waiting on the recommendation from the DA. If passed, this bill would effectively streamline the petition process and help hundreds of thousands of people attain the long-awaited justice that they deserve.

  1. History of AB 1245
  2. Status of the AB 1245

Status of the AB 1245

While the bill died on the legislative floor in January of 2022, there is hope that it can be resurrected and reintroduced in a future legislative session. We must advocate for its return and ensure that we do not allow this rare opportunity to help many who have fallen victim to excessive punishment slip through our fingers.