In addition to a Presidency and seats in the House of Representatives, voters in California had their chance to weigh in on issues aimed at increasing fair treatment for people during various stages of their experiences in the state’s criminal justice system.

The 2020 election yielded some positive news and some not-so-positive news for defendants in California.

Expanding the right to vote

According to a report by Time Magazine, California voters did manage to approve and pass an initiative that will allow people serving parole sentences to vote in future elections. Per Proposition 17, all parolees who would benefit from the right to vote must have completed any incarceration sentence already. Supporters of this effort highlight the benefits of allowing more people’s voices to be heard.

Preventing financial discrimination in the pre-trial process

For some time now, calls have been made to end the required incarceration and cash bail system for defendants while they wait for their trial or hearing dates. CBC Los Angeles indicates that Proposition 25 gave voters in California the ability to make this law, replacing the current system with one that evaluated each defendant on his or her own merit. Flight risk and public safety would be considered in determining the path forward for each person.

Unfortunately, Proposition 25 failed to receive approval from the needed majority of voters. Supporters of Proposition 25 remain concerned about the discrimination poorer defendants may continue to face when forced into a jail or prison cell simply because they lack the ability to afford a cash bail before trial.