Local Control in Sentencing Act (SB 649)

Author: Senator Mark Leno

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

SB 649 is a common-sense bill that would reform California’s drug sentencing laws for simple possession so that a felony penalty is not automatic. Instead, district attorneys will be able to decide when use a misdemeanor charge. This would reduce incarceration costs of people charged with non-violent, low-level drug possession.

The bill gives prosecutors the flexibility to charge low-level possession of drugs for personal use as a misdemeanor instead of an automatic felony. The bill also gives judges the discretion to deem these offenses to be either a misdemeanor or felony.

SB 649 will give counties the flexibility to safely alleviate overcrowding in county jails and ease pressure on California’s court system, and could result in well over $100 million in annual savings for the state and local governments. This means counties could invest resources in drug treatment, rehabilitation and education programs – proven methods to reduce recidivism, prevent crime and increase public safety.

Along with the ACLU of California, SB 649 is sponsored by Drug Policy Alliance, National Council of La Raza, California NAACP, California Public Defenders Association, William C. Velasquez Institute, Californians for Safety and Justice, and Friends Committee on Legislation - California.