Criminal justice reform laws take effect in states nationwide

Kathryn Krawczyk

This year's wave of new state laws have a common theme.

Dozens of measures states passed in the past few months take effect Wednesday with the new year's arrival. And from New York to California and states in between, criminal justice reform is on the docket, The Wall Street Journal notes.

New York's newly Democratic majority passed a measure in 2019 eradicating cash bail and pretrial detention for people accused of most Class E felonies and misdemeanors. That measure, which could keep an estimated 90 percent of people arrested from facing those options, takes effect Wednesday. Criminal justice advocates pushed for the provision because cash bail lets people with money easily skip detention.

On the other coast, California will see a new law that lets people with felony convictions serve on juries once they're release from prison, save for those on parole or probation and sex offenders. California also ends mandatory minimum sentences for some drug charges.

In nearby New Mexico, many convicted felons can now ask judges to completely expunge their records. The new measure doesn't apply to those convicted of a "DWI, sex offenses, crimes committed against children, and crimes that cause a death," per KOAT Action News.

These measures all come a year after President Trump indicated his support of criminal justice reform, signing the bipartisan First Step Act into law.

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