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California's harsh sentencing laws toned down by governor

Gov. Jerry Brown recently rolled back some of California's harsh sentencing laws, making some prosecutors and other law enforcement officials unhappy. The package of bills Brown signed will cut jail and prison sentences for juveniles and adults.

The governor's office said the bills he signed will "improve criminal and juvenile justice systems, restore the power of judges to impose criminal sentences and reduce recidivism through increased rehabilitation.”

Included in the package were a pair of bills that make both young and old prisoners eligible for parole sooner. He said legislators should do even more next year to get more older prisoners outside of penal institutions. Upsides include no risks to public safety and a reduced burden on taxpayers.

The moves will save "the state a significant amount of money that would otherwise be spent caring for geriatric prisoners who no longer pose a risk to public safety,” Brown said.

Other bills in the package include Senate Bill 180, which eliminates added jail time for people convicted of minor drug crimes. SB 620 allows judges to decide whether a person who uses a gun in a crime should receive added time in prison or jail.

The governor also signed a bill that will enable some juveniles convicted of misdemeanors to have their records sealed. There is also an included measure to allow records to be sealed for some juveniles who have been arrested but charged.

If your son or daughter has been arrested in Pleasanton, you can speak to an attorney experienced in juvenile defense about available legal options.

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