Assembly Panel OKs Setting Minimum Age for Prosecution

A bill that’s part of a sweeping package of criminal-justice reforms on how California treats youths and young adults was approved today by a key Assembly policy committee.

Senate Bill 439, heard by the Assembly Public Safety Committee, is one of the measures in a #EquityAndJustice package jointly authored by Sens. Holly J. Mitchell and Ricardo Lara. The two Los Angeles-area Democrats proposed the measure as part of major justice reforms that put greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and maintaining family cohesion.

“An overwhelming amount of data has shown that children under 12 are inherently less culpable under criminal law, given their developmental immaturity,” Mitchell said. “Children are not pint-sized adults. They haven’t developed the full capacity to make intentional and thought-out decisions.”

The committee also approved a second #EquityAndJustice measure, SB 1050, which would provide services and support for exonerated people after prison, including healthcare, work training and updating exoneree records to reflect their wrongful convictions.

“Exonerees deserve better then to be thrown out with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said Lara. “SB 1050 is a common sense measure to provide comprehensive resources and support to people who have been wronged by our justice system.”

Both bills now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A hearing date has not yet been set.

The other measures supported this year by Lara and Mitchell are:

SB 1391 – Justice for children under age 16

Ensures that youth ages 14 and 15 who commit crimes get the services and help they need by prohibiting them from being tried as adults and keeping them in the juvenile justice system. Status: Awaiting review by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

SB 1393 – Five-Year Judicial Discretion

This proposal would return to prior statutory authority for judicial discretion on five-year enhancements for serious felony convictions. Status: Approved today by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Ray Sotero 

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