Criminal Justice Lawyers & California Criminal Justice Reform

Scales of justice for California criminal justice reform
As criminal justice systems across the nation continue to address mass incarceration, police brutality, and racial profiling, many people are left wondering what this means for them. In California, criminal justice reform is a hot topic, and many different voices have been clamoring for change for years. The cost of our broken system is staggering – both financially and morally. But with the help of recently passed bills and criminal justice lawyers, change is taking place for the better. So, today I will share with you how criminal justice reform affects San Diego and answer a few questions. 

What Are the Goals of Criminal Justice Reform?

California is looking to reform its criminal justice system to lower the state incarceration rate, which was the highest in the country in 2006. The state also set goals to reduce recidivism by 50 percent and eliminate the need for out-of-state prisons. California’s criminal justice reform efforts accelerated with a strong push from former Governor Jerry Brown.

Governor Brown was a strong advocate for criminal justice reform and prioritized it during his time in office. In 2011, he signed the Public Safety Realignment Act, which shifted responsibility for low-level offenders from the state to local governments. In addition, Governor Brown supported Proposition 47, which reduced nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors, including drug possession and shoplifting. California voters passed the popular bill in 2014 and Proposition 57 in 2016.

These changes helped to decrease the number of people incarcerated in California and redirected funding from imprisonment towards rehabilitation and other crime prevention measures. As a result, local governments and criminal justice lawyers can be more flexible with offenders while continuing to work towards making California’s criminal justice system fairer and more effective. 

What Challenges Does California Criminal Justice Reform Face?

Since Proposition 47 passed in 2014, California has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform. The measure reclassified several felony crimes as misdemeanors, including drug possession and shoplifting, intending to reserve jail time and prison sentences for more serious offenses. However, despite these reforms, challenges remain in addressing criminal justice reform in San Diego and the State of California.

One challenge is ensuring that those who benefit from reclassification measures receive the appropriate support services. That includes access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, job training, and other opportunities that can help people avoid re-offending. Another challenge is addressing the impact of criminal justice reform on public safety. There is a concern that reduced penalties for some offenses could lead to an increase in crime. However, there is no evidence to support this claim, and research suggests that criminal justice reform can decrease crime rates.

A final challenge is ensuring that the costs of criminal justice reform are sustainable. For example, the cost of implementing Proposition 47 is estimated to be over $1 billion annually. It will be crucial to ensure that funding is available to support necessary services and programs for California criminal justice reform to remain successful. 

What Bills Have Been Passed by Congress To Address These Issues?

California criminal justice reform view of Congress

Since the early 1990s, the United States Congress has been attempting to pass criminal justice reform bills to address the high incarceration rates and other issues within the criminal justice system. Some of these bills include the Sentencing Reform Act of 1994, the Second Chance Act of 2007, and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. However, most of these bills have not been successful in passing.

In 2018, however, Congress passed one long overdue criminal justice reform bill: the First Step Act. The First Step Act aims to improve rehabilitation opportunities for inmates and reduce repeat offenders. This bill is considered a victory for California criminal justice reform advocates and criminal justice lawyers. Supporters expect it to reduce incarceration rates and reform the criminal justice system.

Recently, the State of California has passed more criminal justice reform bills. Some of the most notable ones include AB 124, which provides relief for victims of human trafficking and intimate partner violence. SB 391, which expands the use of diversion programs for low-level offenders, and SB 1391, which prohibits prosecutors from charging minors as adults. AB 333 was passed in 2021 and eliminated certain crimes from the list of offenses used to prove a pattern of criminal gang activity. 

How Do California Criminal Justice Lawyers Help With This Process?

To ensure that the criminal justice system is fair and just, it is imperative that all individuals, regardless of their financial situation, have access to adequate legal representation. 

Criminal justice lawyers are at the forefront of advocating for California criminal justice reform, working to ensure that all individuals have a fair chance in court.

By fighting for change at the state level, lawyers like myself can help the most vulnerable individuals in the system. We work to ensure that people are not over-prosecuted and have a chance to receive a fair trial. In addition, we provide educational resources and support to those affected by the criminal justice system. 

The ability to help individuals and families rebuild their lives to reap the benefits of criminal justice reform here in San Diego is essential to our local communities. And by working together, we can create a fairer and more just criminal justice system for all.

Why Choose Me?

When facing criminal charges, you need to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side. I have years of experience as a prosecutor and criminal justice lawyer, and I know how to get the best results for my clients. I will work tirelessly to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome for your case.

I also have extensive experience in California criminal justice reform. I understand the changes made to the criminal justice system in California, and I can help you navigate these changes. Over the past 20 years, I have dedicated myself to fighting tooth and nail for my clients, and I will do the same for you.  

So, if you live in San Diego or anywhere else in California and have criminal law, family law, or criminal justice reform questions, please do not hesitate to contact me for a free consultation or virtual legal assistance. I am passionate about helping my fellow citizens, and you will never have an issue when you try to reach me. Call (858) 922-7098 today to get the legal guidance you deserve. Thank you for considering me as your criminal justice lawyer

About Michael MacNeil

Michael C. MacNeil is a San Diego Family Law and Criminal Defense attorney. With a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law, MacNeil has a solid understanding of our justice system. As a member of the State Bar of California, MacNeal can practice before all courts in the state. MacNeil believes that the law should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. With over 20 years of experience, Michael C. MacNeil is passionate about the law and will work tirelessly to get the best possible outcome for you. Call Mr. MacNeil at 858-922-7098.