Editorial: Here's A Crime California Can Take Off The Books

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

Jaywalking is one of those criminal offenses that many of us don’t think twice about committing. We need to cross the street, any approaching cars are a safe distance away, so off we trot from one side to the next mid-block.

Simple and straightforward — unless you have black or brown skin, or are for some other reason more likely to be cited for breaking a broadly ignored law. Then you can be singled out by a police officer itching to write a ticket. And citations aren’t cheap: The base fine set by California is a hefty $197.

The selective enforcement of jaywalking is the focus of a recently introduced bill by Assembly Member Phil Ting — legislation that is long overdue.

The measure, AB1238, would delete a provision in current law that “pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk” on blocks with traffic signals. Instead, it would emphasize that “a pedestrian shall not be subject to a fine or criminal penalty for crossing or entering a roadway when no cars are present.”