The REFORM Alliance — a criminal justice reform organization of which Robert F. Smith is a Founding Partner — recently landed its first major legislative victory with California Governor Gavin Newsom signing AB 1950 into law. The law, which the REFORM Alliance led advocacy efforts for, limits adult probation sentence maximums to one year for misdemeanors and two years for felonies. California is the most populous state in the country and has the second highest incarcerated population, only behind Texas.
“Americans across the country took to the streets this summer rightfully demanding more and better of our criminal justice system–and of ourselves,” Newsom said in a statement. “Still, we can and must do more. Working with our youth, faith and community leaders, law enforcement, the legislature and countless others demanding change, my administration remains committed to the important work ahead to make our criminal and juvenile justice systems fairer and safer for all Californians.”
People of color — and Black people in particular — are disproportionately impacted in the criminal justice system. A Black person is five times more likely to be stopped without just cause than a white person. While Black people only make up 13.4% of the population, they comprise 22% of fatal police shootings. One out of every three Black males are expected to be incarcerated during some point in their lives, while only one out of 17 white males are expected to be incarcerated.
REFORM Alliance Co-founder JAY-Z said “I want to thank Governor Newsom for his leadership in signing AB 1950, the most transformative probation bill in this country to date. This is a first step that I hope introduces a wave of much-needed change throughout the country.”
Smith — as a renowned philanthropist and Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners — has been a leading voice on racial justice in America. Smith recently spoke with Van Jones, CEO of the REFORM Alliance, during Town & Country Philanthropy Summit about racial justice in America and the need for greater private sector investment in marginalized communities.
Read more about the REFORM Alliance’s legislative victory here.