Policy Experts Call for Sentencing Reform at 'Crime and Punishment' Forum
More than 100 top academic experts, judges, prosecutors, policy makers, and students joined Legislators at UC Davis School of Law on Wednesday at the first policy forum to address the most pressing legal, political and economic issue to confront Californians in three generations: Reforming the sentencing system even as state and local authorities realign prison, probation and jail.
California must cut its prison population following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Plata. The conference, titled “Crime & Punishment Revisited: Sentencing in a Post-Plata World,” was jointly sponsored by UC Davis School of Law, The California Endowment, and the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, and presented a timely dialogue on immediate ways to clarify California’s complex and confusing sentencing system.
“There is no doubt that California’s criminal sentencing system needs to be reformed,” said Kevin R. Johnson, Dean of the UC Davis School of Law. “Study after study support that conclusion to these facts. Today’s conference is a major step toward beginning meaningful reform.”
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A who’s who of participants and panelists included:
• Matthew Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (Keynote presenter)
• Steve Cooley, District Attorney, Los Angeles County (Keynote presenter)
• John McGinness, KFBK radio host and former Sacramento County Sheriff (Keynote presenter)
• Vikram Amar, Associate Dean, UC Davis School of Law
• David Ball, ABA Corrections Committee Co-chair and Professor, Santa Clara Law School
• G. Jack Chin, Professor, UC Davis School of Law
• Hon. Roger Dickinson, Assemblymember, Chair, Assembly Committee on Accountability & Administrative Review
• Stuart Drown, Executive Director, Little Hoover Commission
• Angela Harris, Professor, UC Davis School of Law
• Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, UC Davis School of Law
• Jerry Landau, Government Relations Director, Supreme Court of Arizona
• Hon. Carol Liu, State Senator, Senate Public Safety Committee
• Aaron Maguire '01, Deputy Legislative Secretary, Office of Governor Jerry Brown
• Marc Miller, Vice Dean, University of Arizona Rogers College of Law
• Lee Seale '01, Director of Internal Oversight and Research, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation
• David Sklansky, Professor and Faculty Chair of the Berkeley Center for Criminal Justice, UC Berkeley School of Law
• Wendy Still, Chief Probation Officer, City & County of San Francisco
• Hon. Steve White '74, Presiding Judge, Sacramento Superior Court
• Hon. Mariko Yamada, Assemblymember, 8th Assembly District
Panelists and speakers engaged nearly audience members in an innovative format that ended with the proposal of action items for the State Legislature in 2012. The experts generally agreed that realignment -- the most significant criminal justice issue in three generations -- will need to be adjusted as the broken sentencing system is fixed.
At the conclusion of the conference, the Law School announced plans for a new research project on sentencing.
“We want to play our part,” said Dean Johnson. “We are exploring a permanent research project to build a database on sentencing practices in California. Building a comprehensive database to identify disparities and best practices is the place to begin long-term reform.”
Dean Johnson also thanked the conference organizing committee members: Professor G. Jack Chin, Professor Elizabeth Joh, Professor Floyd Feeney, Law School Marketing and Communications Director Pamela Wu, and Robert J. Gore, Special Advisor to UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.