Supporters 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