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Battle over criminal justice reform continues as start date nears for big changes

The criminal justice law changes set to take effect early next year have fallen under increasing scrutiny from opponents as supporter seek to bolster the new measures with an ad campaign touting the benefits.

The fight over the reforms — laws that will end cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies as well as require a faster processing of evidence for defense teams — has been more pointed in recent weeks, even more so than the days leading up to legislative votes earlier this year.

For supportive Democrats and criminal justice law reformers, the bills are meant to keep people from languishing in local jails. Republicans, law enforcement officials and local prosecutors, however, are concerned with the added expense of the laws taking effect, as well as the potential for dangerous people to be let back on the streets.

On Monday, Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco and Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara unveiled legislation meant to delay the implementation and would add more judicial discretion to the bail law changes.

“The so-called reforms that ultimately passed were done in haste in the flurry of passing a state budget without getting input from the criminal justice experts who will have to implement the law,” Tedisco said.

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