Justice Reforms for Youth Pass Key Sacramento Committee

faithSupporters of sweeping reforms of how California’s criminal justice system treats youths and young adults won another round today as the sixth measure in a seven-bill package that has passed its initial policy review.

In addition, a companion measure that had been referred to a second policy committee for review won approval for the second time in as many weeks.

“I’m grateful to colleagues who are joining me in reforming a system that too often punishes children as if they were disposable adults,” Sen. Holly J. Mitchell said after members of the Senate Committee on Public Safety voted 6-1 to approve Senate Bill 439, which would set age 12 as the minimum age for incarceration. “Children are not pint-sized adults but instead should be subject with care with an emphasis on rehabilitation – not warehousing.”

Also approved today was SB 190, by the Senate Human Services Committee, a measure that would eliminate court fees on those found innocent of a crime.

SBs 439 and 190 are two of seven bills comprising an #EquityAndJustice package jointly authored by Mitchell and Sen. Ricardo Lara. Both bills will next be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a date yet to be set.

The two Los Angeles-area Democrats unveiled the measures March 20 seeking major justice reforms that put greater emphasis on prevention, rehabilitation and maintaining family cohesion.

Their other measures are:

SB 180 – Drug Sentence Enhancements
This reform measure is a modest step toward enacting the bipartisan movement to end wasteful incarceration spending in favor of community reinvestment. Status: First hearing on April 18.

SB 355 – No Court Fees for the Innocent
This would provide that only those who are convicted of a crime are required to reimburse the courts for legal counsel fees. Status: Approved by the Senate on April 3; this measure now awaits action in the Assembly.

SB393 – Sealing of arrests
Senate Bill 393 seals arrest records and remove barriers to employment for those arrested but not convicted of a crime. SB 393 is sponsored by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. Status: Approved by Public Safety last month, SB 393 next faces review by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 25.
SB 394 – Juveniles Life Without the Possibility of Parole
Brings California into compliance with Montgomery v. Louisiana decision that juveniles cannot be sentenced to Life Without Parole. Status: To be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a date yet to be set.
SB 395 – Miranda Rights for Youth
Requires youth under the age of 18 consult with legal counsel before they waive their constitutional rights in interrogations with police. Status: To be reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on a date yet to be set.

The two lawmakers explained the bills during a recent press conference. Watch that press conference  by clicking here www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0tQj83Gdk4&feature=youtu.be

-Ray Sotero 

The Actors' Gang

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