The CA Assembly’s Public Safety Committee today approved Assembly Bill 277 (AB 277) that would provide benefits to all parolees except for those convicted of a sex offense. The committee members voted 6 to 1 in favor of the bill after ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci and nine ACSOL members stated their opposition.
“Our main objection to the bill is that it would exclude anyone who has ever been convicted of a sex offense, regardless of whether the offense involved violence or occurred decades ago,” stated Bellucci. “There is no rational basis for this exclusion and if the bill becomes law, it could be successfully challenged in court because it violates the Equal Protection clauses of both the state and federal constitutions.”
During a discussion of AB 277, two members of the Public Safety Committee (Chairman Reginald Jones-Sawyer and Member Bill Quirk) apologized in advance for voting in favor of the bill stating that it would not be politically feasible at this time to remove the exclusion from the bill. Also during discussion of AB 277, both supporters and opponents of the bill emphasized that reintegration credits could increase public safety by allowing parolees greater freedom to reunify their families, attend college and find better jobs.
In addition to ACSOL, the only organization that also opposed AB 277 was the District Attorneys Association based upon its belief that parolees do not need or deserve reintegration credits. The only committee member to vote against the bill was Assemblyman Tom Lackey.
Because the Public Safety Committee approved AB 277 today, the bill will next be considered by the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee on a date yet to be determined. If the Appropriations Committee approves the bill, it would next be considered by the full Assembly. And if the full Assembly approves AB 277, it will be sent to the Senate where it will be considered first by the Senate Public Safety Committee.
“Although we didn’t stop AB 277 today, there are many more opportunities to stop that bill before it becomes law,” stated Bellucci. “ACSOL will provide its members with information regarding those opportunities when dates, times and locations are available.”