Bill increasing penalties for possessing date-rape drugs becomes law without governor's signature

September 30, 2016

In a rare move, Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday he was allowing a bill increasing penalties for possession of date-rape drugs to become law without his signature.

Brown normally signs bills he supports or vetoes them if he doesn't, but bills can become law if the governor fails to act by Friday’s midnight deadline. The governor's representatives declined to explain his decision, but Brown has in the past been reluctant to approve bills that added to prison overcrowding.

The measure by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) targets drugs that  cause victims to become completely incapacitated, leaving them with no memory of their assault.

The bill restores the authority of county prosecutors to pursue felony charges against individuals caught with the most common date rape drugs and who have also demonstrated the intent to commit a sexual assault. It addresses a change in the authority that was included in Proposition 47, previously approved by voters.

“The issue of sexual assault has received increased attention in both state and national media recently as California’s inadequate sexual assault laws have been brought to light,” Galgiani said in a statement.

California offenders will no longer be eligible for early release if they have been convicted of murder in the death of a police officer.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation that exempts offenders from consideration for compassionate or medical release.

Currently under the law, the secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Board of Parole Hearings determine whether a prisoner meets those provisions.

Offenders are typically recommended for early release if they have six months or less to live and would not pose a threat to public safety under court conditions or if a prisoner is permanently medically incapacitated.

Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) has said she filed the legislation, SB 6, to target a group of offenders sentenced during a period in the 1970s, when California had neither a death penalty sentence nor a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. During that time, she said, people convicted in the deaths of police officers were sentenced to life with parole.

Opponents of the bill said the parole board was capable of screening the petitions to determine who is appropriate for release. They said medical parole was meant to decrease the financial strain of caring for medically incapacitated inmates.