Fair Sentencing for Youth



Take Action! Thank your local legislator!

Celebrate Children’s Rights Progress!

We played a big role in three significant wins for California children this year.

Help us thank leaders who stood up for children’s rights! It is important for policymakers to know that we appreciate their support for SB 394, AB 1308, and SB 395. If you do not know who your representatives are, use this easy search engine.

Call Governor Brown at (916) 445-2841, or send him a tweet at @JerryBrownGov to say thanks.

See if your representative voted for these bills, and get their phone numbers and twitter handles here.

The call is as simple as: “My name is ___________, and I am calling to thank the Governor [or Senator, or Assembly Member] for supporting these important bills, SB 394, AB 1308, and SB 395.”

The tweet could say: “Thank you [@twitterhandle] for supporting [#SB394/#SB395/#AB1308] and advancing #childrensrights in #CA! @hrw.”

SB 394 means children in California will no longer be sentenced to die in prison. It gives people who committed a crime under age 18 and were sentenced to life without parole the chance to earn release and come home. No other country outside the US imposes life without parole sentences on children.

AB 1308 protects transition-age youth sent to prison, giving them special opportunities by extending eligibility for “Youth Offender Parole” through age 25. The new law means young people will be treated fairly, and have a better chance at parole.

SB 395 protects children in police custody, ensuring that they’re not alone when making complex legal decisions, like whether to give up their rights. Now, police in California will not be able to interrogate children age 15 and under until a child has consulted with an attorney.


Donate to the CARES Holiday Project: Gifts for murder victim family members

The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and happiness, but missing the presence of a loved one can mean that the holidays are  hard. Those who have lost loved ones to violence have another layer of pain to their loss.

For the sixth year in a row the CARES Holiday Project is raising money to provide gifts to murder victim families. When you participate, you let families who have suffered the unimaginable know that you are thinking of them.

The Men of Honor inmate-led group at Lancaster prison is joining us to fundraise once again, and we have already begun to get checks from people inside: Some send just a couple dollars, others send more. The thought is what counts.

Every year, the families that receive CARES gift cards are deeply appreciative: The gift helps provide a little extra for a good meal or something special for their children and loved ones. The families are especially moved that the people giving are family and friends of those in prison and people in prison themselves.

Last year, CARES provided gift cards to 80 families. Help us surpass that number this year!

We are a community of compassionate people, and this project is a direct way to act on compassion. Please consider donating any amount (no amount is too small!)

We can’t do this without your help. Please join us and send your donation to:
HRW CARES Victim Holiday Gifts
11500 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. 608
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Please make checks out to either Elizabeth Calvin, or Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch if you want it to be a nonprofit donation) with the memo line: “CARES Victim Family Gifts.” Please indicate if you would like a tax-deductible receipt.

Thank you for your continued support!

Senate Bill 1391 signed by Governor Brown!

Senate Bill 1391 was signed by Governor Brown on September 30, ending California’s prosecution of 14- and 15-year-olds in the adult court system. This means that youth under the age of 16 will no longer be tried as adults. This is an incredible win for juvenile justice and for our communities.



Urgent action needed: Call Governor Brown and ask him to sign SB 1391!

Governor Brown needs to hear from people like YOU! Please take one minute out of your day, and call the his office. Ask him to sign SB 1391, the bill that would stop the transfer of 14- and 15-year-olds to the adult criminal system.

Call Governor Brown’s office:
(916) 445-2841

Something like this is all you’ll have to say:
“Hello, my name is __________.  I ask that the Governor sign SB 1391 into law.  I believe that 14- and 15-year-olds should be kept in the juvenile system.”

That’s it! (They may ask for your address.)

If you believe 14- and 15-year-olds should be kept in the juvenile system, please spread the word with family, friends, and colleagues. Ask them to make a phone call, too. Help us get SB 1391 signed into law!

Senate Bill 1391 heads to Governor’s desk!

Senate Bill 1391, which would stop California from transferring 14- and 15-year-olds to the adult court system, passed out of the Senate after a concurrence vote on August 30th. The bill is now headed to Governor Brown’s desk for his signature. Head on over to this page, and take action by writing a letter to the Governor, and ask him to sign SB 1391. Learn more about the bill here.


Senate Bill 1391 passes in the State Assembly!

Senate Bill 1391 (Lara) passed in the State Assembly late last night, with a 41-23 vote. The bill is now returning to the Senate for a concurrence vote, before heading to Governor Brown’s desk.

We are grateful to our powerful coalition of advocates, formerly incarcerated people, activists, and community members who care about protecting our 14- and 15-year-old youth.

We need your help one more time! Please head over to our Take Action page, and learn how you can ask Governor Brown sign this important bill into law!


Call your Assembly Member and tell them to vote yes on SB 1391.

In California, children as young as 14 are given adult sentences, including life in prison.

This shouldn’t happen. If you live in California or know someone who does, make a call.  

1 easy call + 2 minutes of your time = Keep kids under 16 from being tried as adults & sentenced to life in prison.

Do you have a loved one sentenced to prison? Think about those who were sentenced to prison at age 14 or 15. Help end this practice: CLICK HERE FOR EASY INSTRUCTIONS. The next few days may be your last chance to help pass a law that would stop California from sending youth under 16 to the adult system.  

August 21st CARESCall Welcomes Senator Skinner

Join the CARESCall as we welcome the Honorable Nancy Skinner, California State Senator on Tuesday, August 21st, at 8 pm. Everyone is welcome. Call: (515) 604-9384 Code: 313882#  Senator Skinner will lead a detailed discussion on SB 1437, which aims to reform the Felony Murder Rule in California.The Felony Murder Rule disproportionately affects youth and people of color, and people are given harsh and unjust prison sentences. The current law has devastated many families and communities, and the bill would bring fairness and proportionate sentencing to the California justice system.

Tonight, August 7th at 8pm CARES for Youth Call guest Dawn Davison, former California state prison warden

Join CARES for Youth when we welcome retired California state prison warden Dawn Davison to the CARES call. With over 30 years at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Ms. Davison worked at California Institute for Women, Calipatria, Lancaster, California Rehabilitation Center, and other prisons. As a warden, she instituted many rehabilitative programs and worked with volunteer groups, emphasizing education, life, and workplace skills; the maintenance of family and community relationships; successful reintegration into society; and breaking the inter-generational cycle of incarceration.
After retiring in 2009, Ms. Davison has remained active on nonprofit boards and as a consultant and activist for the rights of people in prison. She is also a “special consultant” to the Female Offender Programs and Services of CDCR. On this CARES call, Ms. Davison will give us a brief history of her work for the CDCR and her insights on what it takes to successfully rehabilitate and to earn parole. She will answer your questions and is sure to provide excellent advice.
This evening is a special opportunity to learn from a highly experienced correctional professional who has our loved ones’ interests in mind.

Join the CARES for Youth
Call as we welcome
Dawn Davison
Former California State Prison Warden
Tuesday, August 7th, at 8 pm
Everyone is welcome.
Call: (515) 604-9384
Code: 313882#

SB 1391 passes in the Assembly Public Safety Committee!

Senate Bill 1391 passed in the CA Assembly Committee on Public Safety on June 26th, with a 5-2 vote. It is now headed to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

We had a successful day of visits with Assembly members yesterday, and we need your support in asking your Assembly members to vote yes on SB 1391. Click on this link and take action, support #SB1391!