Students for Sensible Drug Policy is proud to support California’s SB180, introduced by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles). This bill would remove the current three-year sentencing enhancements for a number of crimes related to controlled substances.
The bill was first introduced in 2016 as the “RISE Act” (SB966). Although it did not pass during the 2015-2016 session, Senator Mitchell has reintroduced it this year, and many social justice organizations have come out in support of the measure. Under current law (California Health & Safety Code § 11370.2), individuals who have prior convictions for committing or conspiring to commit certain drug crimes listed in the statute (mainly possession for sale, transportation, and manufacturing controlled substances) face an additional three-year sentencing enhancement for each prior conviction if they are arrested again for one of the drug offenses listed. This is regardless of whether the prior conviction(s) resulted in imprisonment. Under the proposed amendments that SB180 would make, the sentencing enhancement would only be activated if the prior conviction was for §11380, which prohibits adults from using a minor as an agent to help violate controlled substance laws. Removing the sentencing enhancement will save California money that could be used instead for treatment and community programs, which are more effective ways of reducing recidivism than repeated incarceration. The bill would also help people who struggle with addiction and mental health disorders, who often face sentencing enhancements based on prior drug convictions. Moreover, the bill would reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system, since people of color are more likely to be stopped, arrested, convicted, incarcerated, and to receive a longer sentence for drug offenses than whites, despite using drugs at similar rates. Simply put, SB180 makes sense. Please sign this petition today asking your Senator to vote “Yes” on SB 180. (Please note, this action is for California residents only.)