NCYL is co-sponsoring legislation to allow youth sentenced to life without parole the opportunity to have their cases reviewed.
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, July 11, 2011
California’s SB 9 was approved by the Assembly Public Safety Committee with a 5-2 vote in early July. Next the bill will continue to the Assembly Appropriation Committee before being put to a vote on the floor of the Assembly. The bill cleared the Senate in June with a 21-16 vote.
There are more than 275 individuals in California sentenced to die in prison for crimes they committed as adolescents. California has the worst record in the nation for racial disparity in the imposition of life without parole sentences on juveniles: black youth are 18 times more likely to receive the sentence.
NCYL, Human Rights Watch, and other justice groups are co-sponsoring California Senate Bill 9, which will give these juveniles a chance to have their cases reconsidered.
The bill would allow juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole to petition for a review of their cases after serving between 10 and 25 years. If the petition is granted, the court holds a hearing to determine whether to resentence the petitioner.
The review could be granted only if the petitioner had no prior convictions for a violent crime, had an adult co-defendant, had shown evidence of rehabilitation, was convicted of felony murder, or did not actually commit the murder. The bill also recommends the court take into consideration whether the petitioner had experienced trauma as a child, suffered from mental abuse, maintained family ties while in jail, and demonstrated remorse.
After the Senate passed SB 9 in early June, it cleared the Assembly Committee on Public Safety July 5 by a vote of 5 to 2. It will next be heard in the Committee on Appropriations.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) after a similar bill, SB 399, failed to pass the Assembly by two votes in August 2010. It is co-authored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), Sen. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), Assembly Member Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), and Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).
Supporters of SB 399 included the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Bar Association of San Francisco, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
For more information, please contact:
Tracy Schroth, National Center for Youth Law
510-835-8098 x3013, tschroth(at)youthlaw.org
Updated July 15, 2011