California has a host of public policy issues that the state government hasn’t done a good job addressing. But when it comes to criminal justice reform, the state has seen considerable progress in recent years, thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown and the state lawmakers who have figured out how counterproductive it is to impose punishments that have the effect of upending people’s lives.
Now this insight has borne fruit again with Brown’s signing of legislation pushed by Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, that will end the state’s practice of suspending residents’ driver’s licenses because of unpaid traffic fines. In January, Brown and Hertzberg made the case that this often leads to people losing their jobs or being unable to go to school or to otherwise take care of family members. Instead of prodding people to pay their fines, the punishment often leaves them destitute and with worse life prospects.