Senate Bill 1437 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown today, marking a pivotal moment of hope for California’s justice system and our communities.
Many of us first learned about the felony murder rule from incarcerated individuals, serving life sentences for a murder they did not commit, nor intend to commit. Their stories revealed to us how this antiquated, retributive law was being used to dole out disproportionate sentences for murder to people who were not murderers, thus further perpetuating the cycle of violence and trauma through marginalized communities. We saw the felony murder rule for what it is: a barbaric, cruel, and unjust violation of our justice system, and we knew we had to do something about it.
Over the past few years, we have proudly been working with grass roots organizations, individuals, and the incarcerated to reach this moment, a feat we were once told was impossible. Through days spent educating legislators at the State Capitol, long nights drafting and refining this new policy with our legal experts, collaborating with our coalition of partners and impacted family members on weekly calls, crafting surveys and documenting cases of those unfairly sentenced under the felony murder rule inside of our prisons, and mobilizing the public to collect letters and making calls, we truly achieved this victory as a community.
We are unconditionally grateful for the diverse advocates of SB 1437 and each person standing with us to ensure that ALL individuals are treated justly and with dignity. The passing of this bill is a result of your dedication and unwavering love for your impacted brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandsons, and granddaughters. To all our friends and supporters, we could not have done this without your commitment to see real justice in action.
SB 1437 is a major win for all of us, but it’s only the beginning. As this law will go in effect January 2019, we are diligently preparing for next steps. In the upcoming months, we will be holding calls and trainings to provide more information about the petition process. We invite you to join us!
Re:store Justice works in partnership with incarcerated people, survivors of crime, district attorneys & the community to reform the criminal justice system.