Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom Take On Big Oil Together With Newly Signed Law

March 28, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

“Fighting to even the scales for California consumers” 

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the signing of legislation to increase accountability and transparency in the gas industry. Today, surrounded by legislators and community leaders in the rotunda of the California State Capitol, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation cosponsored by Attorney General Bonta and authored by Senator Nancy Skinner to implement the strongest state-level oversight and accountability measures on Big Oil in the nation  bringing transparency to California’s oil and gas industry, shining new light on the corporations that have for decades operated in the shadows while ripping families off and raking in record profits.

“Record high retail gas prices — and record-breaking profits for Big Oil — hurt those who can least afford it most of all,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “For too long, Californians have been left in the dark when it comes to the practices of the gas industry. And while oil companies have been lining their pockets, many Californians are struggling to make ends meet. I proudly stand with the Governor as he signs into law our cosponsored bill to bring accountability and transparency to the gas industry. Together, we are fighting to even the scales for California consumers and take this burden off their shoulders.” 

Authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), co-sponsored by Attorney General Bonta and Governor Newsom and approved by a supermajority in both the Senate and Assembly, SBx1-2 creates a dedicated, day-in and day-out, independent watchdog to root out price gouging by oil companies and authorizes the California Energy Commission (CEC) to create a penalty to hold the industry accountable. The law will go into effect on June 26, the 91st day after the end of the special session. 

Learn more about the new law here. 

WHY TRANSPARENCY MEASURES MATTER: When the law’s new transparency and oversight requirements go into effect at the end of June, the state will begin receiving more information than ever before, including last year when it appeared that oil producers suppressed supply to drive up prices and rake in record profits. Industry knows that the new independent watchdog division will be closely monitoring them and will refer any violation of law — including industry misconduct or market manipulation — to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution. 



Attorney General Bonta, Governor Newsom, Senator Portantino Announce Legislation to Strengthen California's Existing Concealed Carry Laws

February 1, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SB 2 protects public safety with uniform and effective licensing procedure throughout California

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, with Governor Newsom, Senator Anthony Portantino, and other legislative leaders, introduced legislation, Senate Bill 2 (SB 2), to strengthen California's existing concealed carry weapon (CCW) laws in a manner consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. The legislation — authored by Senator Portantino and sponsored by Attorney General Bonta and Governor Newsom — would further protect the public safety of Californians by specifying who may obtain a CCW license, limiting the possession of firearms in certain sensitive locations, and advancing safety through stronger training requirements on the safe handling and storage of firearms. Gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety throughout the nation. On average, there are over 120 gun deaths each day and nearly 45,000 each year in the United States. In 2020, firearms were the leading cause of death for children nationwide. 

“The mass shooting incidents we have seen over recent weeks bring to light the need for stronger protections for our communities,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The fact is, individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens simply shouldn’t possess firearms — and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. When a gun is placed in the wrong hands, it is deadly. The Second Amendment is not a regulatory straitjacket — we must protect our communities. The time for thoughts and prayers has long passed: we need brave and immediate action by our leaders — here in California and beyond. We owe our community stronger protections. I urge our state leaders to quickly adopt SB 2. We can’t afford to wait even one minute more.”

“Only in America do we see the kind of carnage and chaos of gun violence that destroys our communities and our sense of safety and belonging,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “America is number 1 in gun ownership and we far surpass every developed nation on Earth in gun deaths – it’s not complicated. In California, we’ve passed common sense gun safety laws and they work: we have a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. We’re doubling down on gun safety and strengthening our public carry law to protect it from radical Republican attacks.”

“In the wake of the recent tragedies in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay and the continued threat of mass shootings, it’s critical that California leads on the issue of gun safety and reform,” said Senator Anthony Portantino. “I am proud to be working with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and activists on SB 2 to strengthen our existing concealed carry laws and ensure every Californian is safe from gun violence. We must be diligent in addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country and concealed carry laws are a key component of this.”

“The Supreme Court’s reckless Bruen decision opened up the floodgates for more guns in more places — but with this bill California once again renews its commitment to being a national leader in the fight against gun violence,” said Shannon Watts, California resident and founder of Moms Demand Action, part of Everytown’s grassroots network. “While the gun industry celebrated the ruling that put their profits over our safety, our grassroots army is proud to stand with our Gun Sense Champions in California to pass this critical bill and make our communities safer.” 

“Following the Supreme Court’s egregious decision in the Bruen case, it is vital that the Golden State take meaningful action to protect all Californians from the threat of gun violence,” said Brady President Kris Brown. “SB 2 would do just this by updating and improving the state's already strong concealed carry license system, and ensure that loaded and concealed weapons are not allowed in certain sensitive places. With SB 2, leaders in California are continuing their leadership in prioritizing the public health and safety of all its citizens. Brady applauds Senator Portantino for introducing this important bill, and thanks Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta for their continued leadership on this issue, and urges the California legislature to pass it without delay.”

“In the face of tragedy, California’s leaders act. They’ve led the nation on gun safety reform and made California a much safer state than most. But today, grieving communities know all too well how much more work there is to do,” said Ari Freilich, State Policy Director for Giffords. “California achieved an all-time record low gun fatality rate in 2019. But like the rest of the country, we have faced record spikes in gun sales and violence since the start of the pandemic and a flood of new weapons in public spaces as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's dangerous Second Amendment ruling last year. Passing SB 2 will strengthen communities’ ability to respond to these threats by requiring stronger vetting and safety training to carry weapons in public and by designating vital community spaces like parks and playgrounds as off-limits to weapons throughout the state. We thank leaders like Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and Senator Portantino for their work and commitment to make all Californians safer and freer from violence.”

In 2020, more Americans died by gun death than any other year on record. Although the United States is an outlier when compared to gun violence in other wealthy nations, states with strong gun violence protections in place see fewer gun-related deaths. Already in 2023, the United States has seen 43 mass shootings, including six tragedies over the past two weeks in California in Goshen, Monterey Park, Half Moon Bay, Oakland, San Diego, and Beverly Crest — dozens of lives lost, and still more seriously injured. Despite having one of the lowest rates of gun-related deaths in the nation, California is not immune to this uniquely American problem, and has a strong interest in maintaining laws that protect the safety of its citizens. 

Research shows that strong licensing laws are effective. States that have weakened permitting laws have experienced an up to 15% increase in violent crime rates a decade after implementation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2020, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people. California’s gun death rate for children is also lower than other states, and is 58% lower than the national average. California’s overall gun death rate is lower than that of every state that does not require permits to carry guns in public, including Mississippi with 28.6 deaths per 100,000 people; 25.9 in Wyoming; 28.6 in Mississippi; 23.9 in Missouri; 23.6 in Alabama; 23.5 in Arkansas; 21.3 in Tennessee; 20.9 in Montana; 20.7 in Oklahoma; 20.1 in Kentucky; 18.1 in West Virginia; 17.6 in Idaho; 14.2 in Texas; 13.6 in Utah; 11.6 in Vermont; 11.2 in Iowa; 10.4 in Maine; and 8.9 in New Hampshire. 

While the United States Supreme Court has concluded that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution imposes some restrictions on states’ ability to regulate firearms, it has also recognized that the Second Amendment allows states to adopt a variety of gun regulations. For example, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that states may restrict the carrying of firearms in “sensitive places” and that states may prohibit individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens from carrying firearms in public. SB 2 builds on those principles and improves California’s existing CCW license law by:

  • Enhancing the existing comprehensive licensing regime that helps ensure those permitted to carry firearms in public are responsible and law-abiding individuals who do not pose a danger to themselves or others;
  • Protecting children and young adults from gun violence by setting a minimum age requirement of 21 years of age to obtain a CCW license;
  • Advancing safety through stronger training requirements about the proper handling, loading, unloading, and storage of firearms; and
  • Safeguarding the public by identifying certain sensitive public places where guns may not be carried.

The legislation may be found here

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Applauds Passage of OpenJustice Data Act of 2016 in California State Legislature

August 30, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released a statement on the California State Legislature’s unanimous passage of Assembly Bill 2524, the OpenJustice Data Act of 2016. Assembly Bill 2524, introduced by Attorney General Harris and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), will convert Crime in California and other annual reports published by the California Department of Justice into digital data sets which will be published on the Attorney General’s OpenJustice Web portal.

“Data and technology have the power to dramatically increase transparency and accountability in our criminal justice system,” said Attorney General Harris. “I applaud the California Legislature’s passage of this legislation, which will bring criminal justice data reporting into the 21st Century. I thank Assemblymember Irwin for standing with me to support the adoption of technology by law enforcement.” 

The OpenJustice Data Act builds on Attorney General Harris’s historic open data initiative, OpenJustice, to improve accountability and transparency in California’s criminal justice system.

The reports published in the OpenJustice Web portal will enhance transparency and accountability by highlighting statistical summaries including numbers of arrests, complaints against peace officers, hate crime offenses, and law enforcement officers killed or assaulted.  The OpenJustice Web portal will transform the way this information is presented to the public with interactive, accessible visualization tools, while making raw data available for public interest researchers. 

"Right now we are sitting on mountains of valuable criminal justice data that local law enforcement work hard to provide in the public interest.  We need to make sure that this information is available to the public and that we are using it effectively.  AB 2524 is a common-sense measure that will help bring California into the 21st century,” said Assemblymember Irwin.

Attorney General Harris first launched the OpenJustice initiative in 2015 as a mechanism for improving community trust in law enforcement, enhancing government accountability, and informing public policy. 

Earlier this year, the Attorney General announced the release of OpenJustice 1.1, which enriched the Web portal’s initial data sets with city, county, and state level context including population and demographic information, unemployment rates, poverty rates, and educational attainment levels.  In addition to providing greater transparency, this information enables policymakers to craft informed, data-driven public policy.

Attorney General Harris has announced that the Department of Justice will augment the OpenJustice Web portal with new criminal justice datasets created through recent legislation, including reports on racial and identity profiling (AB 953, Weber) and officer and civilian-involved uses of force (AB 71, Rodriguez). 

Attorney General Harris has also taken several steps to strengthen the trust between law enforcement and California communities.  She directed a 90-day Review of her Division of Law Enforcement’s policies on use of force and implicit bias, convened the state’s law enforcement leaders to share best practices through her 21st Century Policing Working Group, created the first POST-certified course on Procedural Justice and Implicit Bias in the U.S., and developed a pilot for body-worn cameras for DOJ Special Agents.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Issues Reminder of Registration Deadline for Revamped Comprehensive Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, CURES 2.0

June 28, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today issued a reminder to healthcare professionals about the upcoming deadline to register for the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database.  All health practitioners licensed to prescribe or dispense scheduled medications are required by law to sign up for CURES by July 1, 2016.

In 2013, Attorney General Harris sponsored Senate Bill 809, authored by then-State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D- Concord), which created and permanently funded a new state-of-the-art prescription drug database referred to as “CURES 2.0.”  The legislation – supported by a broad coalition of health, safety, and consumer advocates – included a requirement that all healthcare practitioners authorized to prescribe or dispense controlled substances must apply for CURES access by January 1, 2016.  This deadline was subsequently extended to July 1, 2016.

“CURES 2.0 is not only a state-of-the-art, innovative, and secure database to improve healthcare providers’ ability to combat prescription drug abuse, it’s also a model for the nation on how to address this epidemic,” said Attorney General Harris.  “California will continue to lead the country in the adoption of technology to help curb prescription drug abuse and the diversion of controlled substances statewide.”  

The fully upgraded CURES 2.0 database was launched in January 2016 through a joint partnership between the California Departments of Justice and Consumer Affairs.  CURES enables healthcare providers to review their patients’ medication histories before prescribing new controlled substances.  In addition to providing users with faster and more reliable access to patient activity reports, the upgraded 2.0 system features cutting-edge analytics for flagging at-risk patients, allowing medical professionals to prescribe wisely and helping to prevent abuse or diversion of controlled medications such as opioids.

In December 2015, Attorney General Harris also announced a new streamlined registration process beginning in January 2016, which allows healthcare professionals to apply for CURES access and verify their credentials entirely online using secure web browsers.  Prior to the launch, Attorney General Harris sent a letter to members of the medical community urging them to only use secure software to access confidential and sensitive patient information.

To sign up for CURES, new applicants should visit oag.ca.gov/cures and click the link to register.  New registrants will need their license type and number to register.  Previously registered users of the CURES 1.0 system are not required to re-register. 

A registration “tips and tricks” document in multiple languages is attached to the online version of this release at www.oag.ca.gov/news.  In addition, the state’s 2016-17 budget included new funding for user-end outreach and support positions within the California Department of Justice to help CURES applicants and users navigate the system.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Releases Statement on Bipartisan Passage in Congress of Toxic Substance Control Act that Preserves Critical California Environmental Protections

June 22, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN FRANCISCO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released the following statement, after the bipartisan passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act in the U.S. Congress, reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) to limit the number of dangerous chemicals in our environment.

“California leads the nation in protecting our air, water, and public health, and has taken bold steps to guard against the unsafe presence of toxic chemicals in our state. I applaud Congress’ bipartisan effort to update and reform the long-standing Toxic Substances Control Act and thank Senator Barbara Boxer for her advocacy to protect California’s public health and environment.”

The Act significantly expands the number of registered industrial chemicals that are subject to federal regulation. The passage of TSCA in 1976 grandfathered more than 80,000 chemicals available in the U.S., allowing their continued use without the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing them for their affect on human health and the environment. In the absence of effective federal action, states like California stepped up to fill the void, protecting the public from highly toxic chemicals like flame retardants and emissions from industrial products.

In January, Attorney General Harris and 11 other state Attorneys General sent a letter urging Congress to limit preemption of state authority to regulate harmful chemicals, and noted the complementary roles played by states and the federal government in protecting people from toxic substances. The letter outlined seven key state principles to serve as guidelines for refining the final legislation.

The final version of the TSCA reform legislation eliminates or scales back nearly all the aspects of preemption to which Attorney General Harris and other Attorneys General objected, providing a path for states to continue to innovate, lead, work cooperatively with U.S. EPA and even enact restrictions that are more protective than the federal government’s efforts.

In particular, the final bill reflects five important principles outlined by Attorney General Harris and the coalition of Attorneys General:

  • Once EPA has taken action on a chemical, the scope of state law preempted will be no broader than the scope of EPA’s action.  This means that if EPA acts with respect to a chemical based on a cancer risk, for example, states will not be precluded from acting as to that same chemical based on respiratory risk;
  • States are not preempted from continuing to establish requirements on chemicals pursuant to longstanding state laws;
  • States may continue to enforce existing state chemical restrictions;
  • States may retain their role as co-enforcers of EPA regulations, retaining the authority to adopt and enforce identical limitations on chemicals as those adopted by EPA; and
  • State laws related to water quality, air quality and waste treatment and disposal are not preempted.

The letter was signed by Attorney General Harris and the Attorneys General of Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Since June 2013, when the most recent legislative push to reform TSCA began, Attorney General Harris has been actively advocating for reform that strengthens EPA’s authority, while also preserving states’ important role.  Attorney General Harris will continue to work with other state Attorneys General and with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its new role to regulate harmful and toxic chemicals.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Supports Legislation to End Juvenile Confinement

June 21, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her support for Senate Bill 1143, legislation authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) that would significantly limit the practice of isolating juveniles in room confinement. 

“Subjecting young people to prolonged periods of isolated confinement is cruel, inhumane and counterproductive to rehabilitation. This unnecessary and punitive practice undermines the goal of helping this vulnerable young population become healthy and productive members of our society.  Through this legislation and other reforms, California will lead the nation in providing standards that improve the safety and welfare of both youth and staff at juvenile facilities,” said Attorney General Harris. “I applaud Senator Leno for his leadership on this issue.  I am proud to support common-sense, ‘smart on crime’ legislation that helps those currently and formerly incarcerated overcome obstacles to get their lives back on track, and meet their full potential. ”

SB 1143 would restrict the use of juvenile room confinement in facilities throughout the state. SB 1143 would limit the amount of time a minor may be placed in a locked sleeping room or cell without contact from others, aside from attorneys or facility staff. The bill expressly bans punitive, coercive, retaliatory confinement, as well as confinement used purely for convenience. It also expressly states that confinement shall not be used to the extent that the mental and physical health of the minor would be compromised. The bill then sets reasonable baselines for how long a minor may be confined prior to steps being taken to reintegrate them into the general population.

“The extensive support of SB 1143 is a testament to the harmful effects of prolonged confinement and isolation on the troubled youth in our care,” said Senator Leno. “This bill will help ensure detained young people receive the rehabilitative opportunities they need to safely reintegrate into the community. I am grateful for Attorney General Harris’s commitment to protecting vulnerable children in our state.”

Attorney General Harris created the Bureau of Children’s Justice in 2015, a first-of-its-kind bureau within the California Department of Justice to enforce children’s civil rights in education, foster care, and juvenile justice; hold those who prey on children accountable; and work with policymakers to craft and implement policies that improve outcomes for children.

In this legislative session, Attorney General Harris’s Bureau of Children’s Justice (BCJ) is also supporting a range of bills that would support foster youth and other at-risk and high-needs children. Along with SB 1143, BCJ supports the following bills related to children and youth:

  • AB 1067 (Assemblymember Mike Gipson, D-Carson)

Requires the Department of Social Services (DSS) to convene a working group to make recommendations for the Foster Youth Bill of Rights.

  • AB 1580 (Assemblymembers Mike Gatto, D-Glendale and Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks)

Creates a process for the placement or removal of a security freeze for a protected consumer, a particularly helpful tool for vulnerable children such as foster youth who have an increased risk of identity theft.

  • AB 1840 (Assemblymember Mike Gipson, D-Carson)

Requires that state agencies give preference to homeless youth and formerly incarcerated youth when hiring interns and student assistants.

  • AB 1843 (Assemblymember Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley)

Protects young people from being subjected to inquiry during the hiring process about arrests or detentions that did not lead to juvenile adjudications, arrests for which juveniles have completed probation programs, or records that a court has either ordered sealed or have been sealed automatically.

  • AB 2390 (Assemblymember Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino)

Provides a legislative fix to 2010 legislation that inadvertently removed a mechanism for juvenile offenders with good records on supervised probation to obtain honorable discharge status.

  • AB 2815 (Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach)

Promotes a culture of attendance by giving district attendance supervisors new ways to address the root causes of chronic school absenteeism.

  • SB 884 (Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose)

Requires school districts, special education local plan areas, and the California Department of Education to document the mental health and special education services and funding provided to special education students, including data to monitor their effectiveness.

  • SB 1466 (Senator Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles)

Requires screening services under the children’s Medi-Cal Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program to include screening for trauma.

Attorney General Harris has a longstanding commitment to protecting and supporting children, holding accountable those who exploit or harm children, and pursuing innovative legal and policy solutions to combat crime by investing in children from a young age.

In addition to launching the Bureau of Children’s Justice in 2015, under Attorney General Harris’s leadership, the California Department of Justice was one of just three state agencies accepted by the U.S. Department of Justice to be part of its national Defending Childhood State Policy Initiative. Led by the Office of the Attorney General, the California Defending Childhood State Policy Initiative brings together a cross-sector team of state agency leaders to develop shared priorities to prevent and address children’s exposure to violence.

Attorney General Harris served two terms as District Attorney of San Francisco, where she created a child sexual assault unit. She also led the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Children and Families and specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Endorses Legislation to Reduce Recidivism

June 21, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Today Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced her support for two legislative proposals, Senate Bill 1157 and Assembly Bill 1597, that would help individuals reintegrate into their communities and avoid return to custody. 

“We must hold criminals accountable for their crimes, but our criminal justice system should also provide tools and support individuals in their efforts to successfully reenter society and rebuild their lives,” said Attorney General Harris. “I applaud Senator Mitchell and Assemblymember Stone for championing ‘smart on crime’ bills that will curb recidivism and help inmates get their lives back on track.”

Senate Bill 1157, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell (D- Los Angeles), would guarantee that city and county correctional facilities that elect to utilize video and electronic visitation also provide a certain number of in-person visits for their inmates.  Research shows that in-person visits are a crucial component of successful rehabilitation and reentry, and cultivating positive influencers in the inmates’ lives has been integral to Attorney General Harris’ recidivism reduction pilot program, Back on Track-Los Angeles.  SB 1157 will be heard in Assembly Public Safety Committee this morning, Tuesday, June 21.

Assembly Bill 1597, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D- Monterey), would enable inmates in county jail who have not yet been sentenced to earn credit reductions toward any resulting sentence by participating in rehabilitative programs and completing performance objectives known as “milestones.”  The bill would further specify that an inmate’s participation in such a program could not be used as evidence of guilt in court.  Under current law, only inmates who have been sentenced are eligible to participate in these programs and earn time off of their confinement.  Studies show that inmates who receive educational and vocational training are much less likely to return to prison and much more likely to succeed upon reentry into the community.  AB 1597 was enrolled to the Governor on Friday, June 17, and awaits his signature.

Attorney General Harris has been a longtime leader in the fight to curb recidivism in California. In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created the original Back on Track initiative, a reentry program that aimed to reduce recidivism rates of low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  The program successfully reduced recidivism among its graduates to less than 10 percent over a two-year period and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a model for law enforcement.

In November 2013, Attorney General Harris created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Reentry within the California Department of Justice. The office partners with counties, District Attorneys and other community stakeholders to create effective practices and policy initiatives to address recidivism. The Division has developed a statewide definition of recidivism, identified grants to fund the creation and expansion of innovative anti-recidivism programs, and used technology to more effectively analyze recidivism metrics and data.

In 2015, Attorney General Harris launched Back on Track-Los Angeles, a pilot program in partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other public and private-sector partners to curb recidivism.  Back on Track-LA provides participants with the services and support needed for a seamless transition from in-custody to out-of-custody life, including cognitive behavioral therapy and academic and career-technical training while in custody and employment, housing and continuing education opportunities after release.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Endorses Legislation to Expand Voting Rights

June 20, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her support for Assembly Bill 2466, legislation authored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), which would ensure state law reflects a recent Superior Court ruling which restored voting rights to individuals serving time under community supervision.  The bill would also expand voting rights to those serving a felony sentence in county jail.

“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and society, and yet for too long we have stripped certain individuals of that right,” said Attorney General Harris.  “I applaud Assemblymember Weber for her leadership on this issue, because more Californians should be able to fully and meaningfully rebuild their lives, reintegrate into society and participate in our democracy.”

The proposed bill would ensure that individuals on post-release community supervision and mandatory supervision are eligible to vote statewide, codifying a 2014 ruling in the case of Scott v. Bowen, in which the Superior Court of Alameda County found that these individuals retain their voting rights under Section 2, Article II of the California Constitution.  The bill further specifies that a person who is not imprisoned – defined as serving a state or federal prison sentence – or on parole for the conviction of a felony, is eligible to register to vote, effectively guaranteeing that serving a felony sentence in county jail will not strip individuals of their right to vote.

“In our rush to be seen as tough on crime, we have overlooked a fundamental principal of justice in our democracy – fairness in the application of punishments,” said Assemblymember Weber.  “I am grateful for the Attorney General’s support for this legislation. It is significant that the state’s top law enforcement official acknowledges that low-level offenses do not meet the appropriately high threshold for stripping Californians of their Constitutional voting rights.”

In 1976, California ended permanent disenfranchisement and narrowed restrictions on voting eligibility to people currently imprisoned or on parole for a felony conviction.  In 2011, following the passage of the Criminal Justice Realignment Act, more than 60,000 Californians were disenfranchised in the wake of an ongoing debate regarding how to interpret the terms “imprisoned” and “parole.”  This debate was put to rest with the ruling in Scott v. Bowen when the Superior Court of Alameda County drew a distinction between the new forms of community supervision and parole.

Attorney General Harris has worked tirelessly to protect the civil rights of all Californians, including former offenders, LGBTQ individuals, undocumented immigrants, and communities of color.

In 2013, Attorney General Harris joined the Attorneys General of Mississippi and North Carolina in a friend-of-the-court brief in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, urging the United States Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, landmark legislation that prohibited states with a history of voting discrimination from wrongfully restricting the right to vote.

In 2015, Attorney General Harris and 19 other Attorneys General submitted a friend-of-the-court-brief in Evenwel v. Abbott, supporting states’ rights to consider total population rather than voter or potential voter population when establishing fair districting polices.

Attorney General Harris has also pioneered programs to combat recidivism and ensure that individuals released from prison or jail are given a chance to become productive members of society.  In October 2013, she created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Reentry, which has developed a statewide definition of recidivism, identified grants to fund innovative recidivism programs, and used technology to more efficiently gather crucial recidivism data and metrics.

In 2005, then-San Francisco District Attorney Harris created the Back on Track initiative, a reentry program to reduce recidivism among certain low-level, non-violent drug offenders.  The program reduced recidivism among its graduate to less than 10 percent over a two-year period.  As Attorney General, she created a new version of this initiative, Back on Track–LA, an innovative recidivism reduction partnership with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Probation Department, and other public and private-sector partners.  This comprehensive anti-recidivism initiative works to hold offenders accountable, while preparing them to reenter society as contributing and law-abiding members of their communities.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, 9 States and the District of Columbia Send Letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee Opposing Amendment that Weakens Existing Protections of Military Personnel from Predatory School Recruitment Practices

June 2, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

LOS ANGELES - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and the Attorneys General of Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and the State of Hawaii, Office of Consumer Protection yesterday sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee expressing opposition to an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) proposed by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) that would allow any college approved for military tuition benefits to have unrestricted access to recruit on military bases. 

“Predatory schemes targeting veterans are unconscionable,” said Attorney General Harris.  “The proposed amendment would weaken current rules intended to protect our servicemembers, and harm veterans by making them vulnerable to fraud and exploitation.  We must protect our nation’s veterans and servicemembers from predators who would exploit them for their educational benefits.”

Under existing standards, educational institutions already have sufficient access to military installations, especially for counseling purposes.  This amendment would weaken the existing protections and leave veterans and servicemembers more susceptible to aggressive and deceptive recruiters on military properties.

Attorney General Harris and the other state attorneys general also point out that current protections are indeed insufficient and should be strengthened to ensure that servicemembers are able to perform their duties free from harassment by unscrupulous recruiters.

In issuing this letter, the attorneys general join a number of military and veterans service organizations as well as other advocacy organizations in voicing concerns over the amendment. These organizations have noted their opposition in the following letters: http://veteranseducationsuccess.org/s/Letter-to-Manchin-re-NDAA-43d5.pdf


This letter is Attorney General Harris’ latest effort to protect veterans from targeted scams and predatory practices.  In March of this year, Attorney General Harris obtained a $1.1 billion default judgment against Corinthian Colleges, which targeted servicemembers and veterans and illegally used the seals of the military services in its marketing materials.  Attorney General Harris and seven states also sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs urging VA Secretary Robert McDonald to take steps to ensure that veterans are given accurate information about the risks associated with using their benefits at predatory schools like the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, Inc.  

Last year, Attorney General Harris issued a consumer alert warning veterans and their survivors to be on alert following a rise in reported pension poaching scams, and last Friday, in honor of Memorial Day, issued consumer tips to help California servicemembers and veterans protect themselves from common scams. In November 2015, Attorney General Harris announced a stipulated judgment against JPMorgan Chase over allegations of credit card debt-collection abuses that violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the California Military Veterans Code and required the payment of restitution to servicemember-victims nationwide.  The Attorney General’s office has also provided training and support to military legal assistance attorneys on consumer protection issues.

The letter to Senator Manchin opposing the amendment is attached to the online version of this news release at www.oag.ca.gov/news.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Releases Statement on Urgent Legislation Lifting Restriction on Organ Transplants Between HIV-Positive Individuals

May 27, 2016
Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO - Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today released the following statement after Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1408, authored by Senator Allen (D – Santa Monica), which would allow life-saving transplants between HIV-positive individuals. Attorney General Harris received a letter earlier this week from a transplant surgeon at University of California, San Francisco and immediately urged the legislature to act to change existing law and allow HIV-positive individuals to receive organ donations from other HIV-positive individuals.

“I applaud Governor Brown and the legislature for working swiftly to eliminate outdated and discriminatory policies that criminalized life-saving organ transplants between HIV-positive donors and recipients.  Through tremendous, bi-partisan cooperation, our state's elected officials acted on a rare opportunity to immediately save lives.”