Effective January 1, 2019 New Bill Will Permit the District Attorney’s Office to Recommend Shorter Sentences for Inmates Retroactively in the Interests of Justice (AB-2942)

On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown approved Assembly Bill - 2942 which creates landmark authority permitting the District Attorney’s Office to retroactively recommend shorter sentences for inmates.[1] AB-2942 makes amendments to Penal Code section 1170.

Under current law, the court has the discretion, within 120 days of commitment on its own motion or at any time upon the recommendation of the secretary or the Board of Parole Hearings (in the case of state prison inmates) or the county correctional administrator (in the case of county jail inmates) to recall the sentence and commitment previously ordered and “resentence the defendant in the same manner as if he or she had not previously been sentenced, provided the new sentence, if any, is no greater than the initial sentence.”

AB-2942 amends Section 1170(d)(1) and now allows, in addition to the parties stated above, the District Attorney’s Office to recommend the recall of an inmate’s sentence and commitment and resentence the inmate to a recommended shorter term.

The court resentencing under this division may reduce a defendant’s term of imprisonment if it is in the interests of justice. When making this determination, the court may consider postconviction factors such as the inmate’s disciplinary record and record of rehabilitation while incarcerated, evidence that reflects whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition, if any, have reduced the inmate’s risk for future violence, and evidence that reflects that circumstances have changed since the inmate’s original sentencing such that the inmate’s continued incarceration is no longer in the interest of justice.

It is clear by enacting AB-2942, the Legislature is seeking for reconsideration of lengthy sentences for defendants who have become rehabilitated during their incarceration yet still remain in custody on long sentences.

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[1] Visit the following link for the full text: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2942

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