State Senate Votes to End Sentencing of 14- and 15-year-olds in Adult Criminal Court

The California Senate today approved Senate Bill 1391, which prohibits 14- and 15-year-olds from being tried as adults in criminal court and subsequently sent to adult prison.

SB 1391 is part of the #EquityAndJustice2018 package jointly authored by Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles).

The bill reverses laws passed in the 1990s that allowed for sentencing the youngest teens to the adult criminal justice system.

The bill needs a concurrence vote in the Senate by midnight Friday, August 31, to be sent to Governor Brown.

“In developing public policy it should be our goal to create systems based on science and results,” Mitchell said. “Research has verified for us that 14 and 15 year olds are not pint-sized adults, and we also understand the failing of our adult corrections facilities to address rehabilitation and reentry. To expect a child to thrive in that area would be foolhardy.”

Lara agreed:

“California criminal law did not always treat 14- and 15-year-olds as adults, and we know better now that youth are still developing and have a greater capacity to change,” said Senator Lara. “Keeping youth in the juvenile system does not mean they get off with a slap on the wrist, but they also receive age-appropriate services and programs to rehabilitate and grow into healthy, mature adults.”

SB 1391 is sponsored by Human Rights Watch, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, the National Center for Youth Law, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, Silicon Valley De-Bug and the W. Haywood Burns Institute, and supported by more than 60 organizations.

Ray Sotero

The Actors' Gang

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