The STEP Forward Act
In California, if you are accused of committing a crime and also affiliated with a gang means harsher punishment — this additional sentencing penalty is known as a “gang enhancement”. If a person accused of committing a felony is thought to have committed that felony for the benefit of a gang, then more time is added to their criminal sentence. In some cases, this gang enhancement penalty is often longer and more severe than the penalty for the underlying criminal offense. However, the justifications to prove gang involvement are not clearly defined, and therefore are used to contribute to California’s level of mass incarceration. This disproportionately impacts Black and Latino communities by criminalizing neighborhoods and relationships, and contributes to collective trauma on communities of color.
This bill will essentially make it more difficult to use gang affiliation to increase a person’s sentence. AB 333 will end the ability of prosecutors to claim people are gang members simply because they may come from the same community, be related, or know each other — instead, it requires direct evidence of current and active gang involvement. This bill also prohibits the use of the current charged offense as proof of a “pattern” of criminal gang activity. By clarifying and separating a person’s sentence from their gang involvement, AB 333 will advance criminal, racial, and social justice by ensuring gang enhancements are only used when absolutely necessary.
Stay up-to-date on AB 333.