REFORM Alliance Scores First Major Victory as California Enacts Law Drastically Reshaping its Probation System

AB 1950 will help hundreds of thousands of Californians on probation get the support needed to succeed and exit the system for good

October 1, 2020 – Today, REFORM Alliance notched its first major legislative accomplishment with the enactment of AB 1950, legislation that will significantly improve California’s probation system and help put hundreds of thousands of Californians on probation in positions to succeed and exit the criminal justice system for good.


The win represents the first major legislative victory for the REFORM Alliance, which is co-founded by Meek Mill, Michael Rubin, Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter, Robert Kraft, Clara Wu Tsai, Michael Novogratz, Dan Loeb, Robert Smith, Robert Kraft and Laura Arnold and the CEO is Van Jones. REFORM worked with the legislation’s primary sponsor, Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, to push AB 1950 through the legislature this session. Led by Jessica Jackson (REFORM’s Chief Advocacy Officer) and Erin Haney (REFORM’s National Policy Director), the organization’s campaign generated more than 3,500 emails from Californians to their legislators and to Governor Gavin Newsom, who formally signed the measure into law on September 30.

The new law will limit adult probation sentences to a maximum of one year for misdemeanor offenses and two years for felony offenses. Doing so will reduce needless probation violations and make communities across the state safer.


“This is exactly why we created REFORM – to change laws and create a smarter criminal justice system focused on rehabilitation and redemption all while keeping communities safe,” said REFORM co-chair Michael Rubin. “We’re grateful for Governor Newsom and Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove’s commitment to making such meaningful change in California and we hope it sets a necessary precedent for state leaders across the country.”


“I want to thank Governor Newsom for his leadership in signing AB1950, the most transformation probation bill in this country to date,” REFORM co-founder Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter said. “This is a first step that I hope introduces a wave of much needed change throughout the country.”


Roughly 300,000 adults are currently on probation in California, with each of them costing taxpayers over $4,400 annually. Overall, the state spends $2 billion each year to incarcerate people for supervision violations – $235 million of which is spent on incarcerating people for victimless, technical violations like coming home late from work.


Reducing probation terms from 3 years to 1 year for misdemeanors and 5 years to 2 years for felonies via AB 1950 could amount to $2.1 billion in reduced incarceration, probation, and judicial and operational costs over 5 years in California. Additionally, it would decrease the probation population by 33 percent, give 24,000+ life years back, and prevent 48,000+ prison admissions due to technical probation violations. Currently, 43 other states have some form of probation caps.


AB 1950 also saves California money that can be reinvested into evidence-based anti-recidivism programs that put people on a path to success. Research shows that probation services, such as mental healthcare and addiction treatment, are most effective during the first 18 months of supervision and that providing increased supervision services earlier reduces an individual’s likelihood to recidivate.


“By signing AB 1950 into law, Governor Newsom has further cemented his legacy as a champion for justice, redemption, and opportunity,” said Van Jones, CEO of REFORM. “In a year that has been so challenging and difficult for so many, this reform marks a bright spot that will lead to better outcomes for individuals and families across California. I cannot thank the Governor enough for supporting this legislation. I look forward to working with him to make the measure even stronger and more meaningful in the coming year.”

About REFORM Alliance


The REFORM Alliance is committed to advancing criminal justice reform and eradicating laws and policies that perpetuate injustice in the United States. To achieve that objective, REFORM will pass probation bills at the state level, use media to amplify the need for comprehensive reform and build an inclusive, bipartisan alliance of leaders who share a vision for ambitiously and efficiently transforming the criminal justice system.


REFORM’s founding partners include award-winning recording artist Meek Mill; Philadelphia 76ers partner and Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin; entrepreneur and business mogul Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter; Kraft Group CEP and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; Brooklyn Nets co-owner and philanthropic investor Clara Wu Tsai; Third Point LLC CEO and founder Daniel S. Loeb; Galaxy Digital CEO and founder Michael E. Novogratz; Vista Equity Partners founder, chairman, and CEO Robert F. Smith; Arnold Ventures co-founder Laura Arnold. CNN host, author and activist Van Jones serves as the organization’s CEO.