Legislation to Limit Adult Probation Terms Signed by Governor Newsom

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

(Sacramento) – Today Governor Newsom signed AB 1950, a bill to limit adult probation to a maximum of one year for misdemeanor offenses and two years for felony offenses. Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) authored the bill.

Current law authorizes courts to enforce misdemeanor probation terms for a maximum of three years. Felony probation may be enforced for as long as the maximum possible prison sentence for the offense.

“Signing this bill took courage and a real belief that probation is part of a costly caste system that keeps hundreds of thousands of Californians tethered to the threat of imprisonment. I applaud the Governor for beginning a national dialogue about transformative probation reform,” said Assemblymember Kamlager.

“AB 1950 rejects business as usual, and instead offers an approach rooted in research showing that probation services, such as mental healthcare and addiction treatment, are most effective during the first 18 months of supervision,” Kamlager continued. “Research also indicates that providing increased supervision and services earlier reduces an individual’s likelihood to recidivate. I am elated that our Governor agrees that now is the time for our probation system to start reflecting that data.”

Limiting the length of probation terms will limit unnecessary interaction between law enforcement and Californians, reduce the spread of COVID-19, cut spending and make our communities safer.

Nearly one-quarter of California’s prison population is behind bars for violating the terms of their probation or parole, costing the state $2 billion annually. Part of that expense is $235 million to incarcerate people for victimless, technical violations, such as breaking curfew or missing an appointment with a supervision officer.

This system disproportionally hurts Black people, who make up eight percent of the state’s general population but 23 percent of people on probation. 

Probation officers are woefully overburdened in California, with many of them juggling overwhelming numbers of cases, short-changing people on probation and generating adverse impacts on community safety. Reducing the burden on probation officers will enable them to identify specific needs in each case and elicit more meaningful and measurable progress toward rehabilitation.

“Recent protests and social unrest are pushing our country toward progress,” said Kamlager. “The passage of AB 1950 is a step toward a future in which justice is restorative and rehabilitative – rooted in research, data and a consciousness that the way we have been operating is insufficient. A future in which supervision is not about how long someone’s term is, but how meaningful that term is.”

AB 1950 will reduce recidivism, put people on a springboard to success, and encourage and expand evidence-based anti-recidivism programs. 

To schedule an interview with Assemblymember Kamlager, contact Alina Evans at (831) 331-8468.

Assembly District 54 consists of Baldwin Hills, Cheviot Hills, the Crenshaw District, Century City, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Rancho Park, Westwood and parts of South Los Angeles and Inglewood