UPDATED 9:38 AM PT – Thursday, March 25, 2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) selected an assemblyman from Alameda, California to become the state’s next attorney general. On Wednesday, Rob Bonta accepted the nomination and thanked the governor for the opportunity.
“A special thank you, Governor Newsom, for the privilege and honor of a lifetime,” he stated. “And I’m so humbled by the trust and the faith and the confidence that you placed in me.”
Bonta will be taking the role vacated by now Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra.
.@RobBonta will make history as the 1st CA Filipino Attorney General.
He represents what makes CA great–taking on righteous fights & reversing injustices.
In this moment of sickening attacks on AAPI Californians there’s no one better to defend CA values pic.twitter.com/Y3T1zdG5dK
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 24, 2021
The newly appointed official said one of his focuses as attorney general will be criminal justice reform. However, that focus has raised alarms as critics worry his policies regarding crime control may spell catastrophe for the Golden State.
During his time in the state assembly, Bonta fought for increased scrutiny of police officers, the restructuring of private prisons and the elimination of cash bail.
Police unions have pointed out that during a confrontation the threat of facing an investigation by an organization that cannot empathize with the stresses of discharging a weapon in the line of duty can hinder an officer’s ability to carry out their duties.
Steve Loomis, former president the Cleveland Police Union, summed up the conflict. He noted, “every time an officer points a gun, he has to do a use-of-force investigation.” He said because of that, officers “aren’t pointing their guns when they should be pointing their guns.”
However, Bonta’s impulse to make law enforcement more complicated doesn’t end with police scrutiny. He has also routinely worked to make it harder for the state’s private prisons to operate as an advocate for Bill AB 3228. He said that was the most important piece of legislation he pushed in 2020.
In addition to allowing prisoners to sue if they are unsatisfied with their experience, AB 3228 would also force facilities that hold ICE detainees to take on the burden of reviewing the cases of every immigrant in their custody. This would divert time and energy to questioning apprehension methods of federal agencies.
Another item Bonta has claimed to be proud of was the push to eliminate cash bail, which set bail at zero dollars for misdemeanors and low-level felonies across the state. While he and other California Democrats claimed the move was to prevent wealthy people from escaping custody in the event they can pay bail, Bonta has not yet responded to concerns that with no bail any offender can escape custody.
The state assembly and Senate, both of which have veto-proof Democrat super majorities, have 90 days to confirm the nomination.
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