Oct. 11, 2017 Update: Gov. Brown vetoed A.B. 811, regarding Internet access for youth in detention and foster care. Read our statement here.
Each day, California Gov. Jerry Brown releases a list of 30-40 bills that he's signed—and those that he’s vetoed. When all is said and done, California likely will add more than 800 new laws to the books this year.
And each day, EFF refreshes and refreshes the governor's press release page, watching for Brown to take action on the bills we fought to put on his desk. He has until Oct. 15 to sign, veto, or let bills pass without his signature.
Will he sign S.B. 345, a police transparency bill that even law enforcement supports? Will he agree that at-risk youth in juvenile halls and foster homes deserve access to digital tools, as proposed by A.B. 811? Will he finish the job of reforming California's gang databases and approve A.B. 90?
He could act on these bills any time over the next 10 days. If you live in California, tell the governor that today is a great day to strengthen our digital rights.
Put Police Policies Online
This week, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued a report [PDF] that police departments across New York were missing deadlines, over-redacting documents, and generally stymying legitimate requests for copies of law enforcement policies under the state's sunshine law. Gov. Brown has an opportunity to lead California in another direction by signing S.B. 345. This bill would require law enforcement agencies across the state publish their policies and training materials online.
S.B. 345, sponsored by Sen. Bradford, would be a milestone for police transparency, allowing the public, researchers, journalists, and law enforcement policymakers to inspect standards across the state, including material on use of force, body-worn cameras, drones, and other controversial police activities.
The bill is supported by EFF, ACLU, the California Public Defenders Association, as well as numerous organizations representing law enforcement officers.
Reform California’s Gang Databases
In 2016, a coalition of community justice and civil liberties organizations mounted a successful campaign to pass a bill (A.B. 2298) reforming how law enforcement agencies operate shared databases of suspected gang members and their affiliates. However, mid-way through the legislative cycle, the California State Auditor issued a report that identified far more problems than could be addressed in a single piece of legislation. The auditor found that the CalGang database in particular is tainted with widespread errors and unsubstantiated information. Many individuals were inappropriately entered into the database, while others should have had their records purged years ago. The auditor also noted that the CalGang system lacks even basic oversight.
A.B. 90, sponsored by Assemblymember Shirley Weber, sets out to address these problems through stringent accountability and transparency measures, such as regular audits and a clear process for individuals to request deletion from shared gang databases. The bill also requires that decisions about the CalGang database are informed by empirical research and advice from a multi-stakeholder advisory body.
Turn on the Internet in Juvenile Halls and Foster Homes
Update: As noted above, Gov. Brown has vetoed this bill.
While youth in public, private, and charter schools are experiencing a boom in educational technology, tens of thousands of children in juvenile detention and foster care are not receiving access to the digitals tools they need to thrive in modern society.
A.B. 811, sponsored by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, would require that youth in state care have reasonable (i.e. supervised and secure) access to computers and the Internet. On the county level, this means access to technology for educational purposes in juvenile halls. On the state level, A.B. 811 would require the Division of Juvenile Justice to provide youth in detention with access to computers for both educational purposes and to stay in touch with their families. Youth in foster care would additionally be provided with opportunities to engage in social activities online.
The bill is supported by the Youth Law Center, the Prison Policy Initiative, and Facebook. No organizations were on record in opposition of the final bill passed by the legislature.