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.

Join the celebration! October 19th in L.A.

PLEASE RSVP to michael.soller@sen.ca.gov

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, Oct. 17th at 8pm: Join the CARES Call for families and friends of youth in prison, and attorneys will answer your questions

Do you have questions about Prop 57 or Youth Offender Parole? Want to understand what newly-passed laws mean for your loved ones? You can get your questions answered by a panel of attorneys who are leading experts on these issues. Join the CARES for Youth Call!  Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 8 p.m. Call: (515) 604-9384  Then use Code: 313882# Everyone is welcome.
This panel of highly experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will be on the CARES Call, eager to answer your questions and describe some of the new, tremendous changes happening in California law. We anticipate a big turnout and lots of questions, and so for this call we ask that you try to submit your questions in advance to dennis@caresforyouth.org with the subject line, “Question for Cares Call 10/17/17.”  Written questions will be answered first, and the panelists will take live questions if time permits.
 
Our panel is: Heidi Rummel, clinical professor of law at USC Gould School of Law and director of the Post Conviction Justice Project. Professor Rummel is a former US Attorney, and was on the drafting teams for SB 260/261 and SB 394, among others. She is an attorney with extensive experience in California parole law, and was lead counsel in the crucially important Lawrence case. She has played a leadership role in the implementation of Youth Offender Parole and Prop 57.
 
Rourke Stacy, juvenile justice advocate, Office of the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Ms. Stacy is a criminal defense attorney with more than 15 years of experience in both juvenile and criminal courts, and has argued before the California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. She was on the drafting team for Prop 57, and has helped draft several bills, including SB 1052/SB 395, among others. She has led, along with Sue Burrell of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, the statewide implementation of Prop 57 transfer law.
 
Elizabeth Calvin, senior advocate at Human Rights Watch. Over the last 12 years Ms. Calvin has coordinated campaigns to change how California treats youth and young adults in the justice systems, and she led the drafting teams for important laws that include SB 9, SB 394, SB 395, AB 1276, SB 260/261 and Prop 57 (juv piece.)  

New, UPDATED Youth Offender Parole Guide!

Get yours here! Just click where it says “Youth Offender Parole Guide” on the right side of this page. New laws that expand eligibility for Youth Offender Parole have just been enacted (SB 394 and AB 1308), and the Youth Offender Parole Guide is updated! It is a guide for people inside and their friends and family on the outside. Please share with those who may be interested.

Youth Offender Parole NEW LAW! Extends eligibility through age 25!

Governor Brown signed into law AB 1308, extending through age 25 a special parole process known as “Youth Offender Parole,” which gives an earlier parole hearing for some people and requires the Board of Parole Hearings to pay particular attention to the fact that someone was young at the time of their crime. Read the new law here. Under the existing law, people who were youth at the time of their crime and later released under the Youth Offender Parole process have low recidivism rates. In the overall population, 36 percent of those released return to prison in the first year, but at this writing, no one paroled under the youth program has been sent back in year one.

Governor Brown signs SB 395, protecting children in police custody!

This new law will protect children in police custody, ensuring that they’re not alone when making hard legal decisions, like whether to give up their rights and face police interrogation. Senate Bill 395 will mean that police cannot interrogate children 15 and under until a child has consulted with an attorney. Read the new law here. “Everyone has heard TV cops rattle off Miranda warnings, but in real life, youth don’t understand what those warnings mean,” Elizabeth Calvin of Human Rights Watch said. “They especially don’t understand what can happen to them once they give up those rights. This new law will make sure children aren’t alone when making a crucial, complex legal decision.”

Long-established law requires that when police take a person into custody they must advise them of their right to remain silent before their responses to police questioning can be used against them in court (“Miranda warnings”). Until now, children of any age could waive those rights before speaking with a lawyer – even before their parents knew they were in custody. Children, whose brains are still developing, are less able than adults to understand complex legal ideas, and the ramifications of submitting to questioning by police.

California had allowed a child of any age to be interrogated by the police with no provision for counsel or contact with parents. Children have been allowed to give up their rights without understanding them. In a recent case, a 10-year-old questioned by police said that he thought that the right to remain silent meant the “right to remain calm.”

In its original form, the bill would similarly have applied to 16- and 17-year-olds, who also need this kind of help, but amendments limited the protections to people aged 15 and under. Senate Bill 395 is a step in the right direction, Human Rights Watch said, since California will ensure that young people 15 and under have the same constitutional protections as adults.

Human Rights Watch urged California’s state senate to pass this bill, joining many other children’s rights advocates and experts. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said that children’s brain development, specifically the area related to reasoning, continues to mature well into early adulthood. Children and adolescents “differ from adults in the way they behave, solve problems, and make decisions,” the academy stated in its letter in support of the bill.

The bill may also help prevent children from falsely confessing to crimes they did not commit, Human Rights Watch said. People under the age of 18 are much more likely than adults to confess to crimes they did not commit. A recent study of exonerations found that 42 percent of exonerated juveniles had falsely confessed, compared with 13 percent of adults.

Governor Brown signs into law SB 394, giving a chance for parole to youth under 18 sentenced to LWOP!

Governor Brown signed SB 394 (Lara), giving people who committed a crime under age 18 and were sentenced to life without parole the chance to earn parole, with a first opportunity for a hearing after 24 years of incarceration.  No other country outside the US imposes life without parole sentences on children. By signing SB 394 into law, Governor Brown removes this shameful exception in California. Read the bill here.

Many organizations urged passage of SB 394. Human Rights Watch published several reports, including in California, on the sentencing of youth under 18 to life without parole sentences. With this new law’s passage, 24 states and Washington DC do not use life without parole sentences for juveniles, Human Rights Watch said, and in the past four years, 14 states have passed bills banning life without parole sentences for youth.

CARES for Youth delivers thousands of supporter signatures to Governor Brown’s desk!

Dennis P. Flynn, who heads up CARES for Youth, was at the California capitol today, delivering to Governor Brown a petition with thousands of signatures in support of SB 395, SB 190 and SB 394. Dennis’ own daughter was sentenced to life in person when she was only 16 years old. Here he is handing to the Governor’s staff more than 340 pages with the names of people who signed in support of these important bills. Thank you CREDO Mobile for putting the petition out there!

Have you told the Governor you hope he will sign these and other important bills? It’s not too late, take action! Go here for quick and easy to use sample letters. 

 

 

 

 

Join the CARES Call on California Bills. What Passed, What Didn’t, What’s Next.

Join us to hear from KIM McGILL of the Youth Justice Coalition, Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 at 8pm

Everyone is welcome. Call: (515) 604-9384;  Code: 313882#  Kim McGill is a dynamic and powerful speaker joining us to describe important bills that have passed in the legislature and what ones need help getting the governor’s signature in order to become law.

Kim will describe what these bills will do if signed into law, and she’ll answer your questions! An organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition, she has years of experience fighting for change and passing bills. She also trains youth organizers about issues in the justice system, police and prison funding, the school to prison pipeline, and more. She works to create grassroots movements to accomplish change, end inequities in the justice system, and create alternatives to incarceration. If you haven’t heard any of Kim’s presentations, check out these videos of Kim in action: Watch and listen here as Kim describes the importance of activism and organizing, and here, where Kim testifies before the LA Board of Supervisors. She is a powerful advocate, and works tirelessly to make justice real in the United States.

PASSED! A bill giving parole hearings to youth serving life without parole!

Youth sentenced to die in prison will instead get the possibility of parole if Governor Brown signs SB 394 into law. Click here to urge the Governor to sign this important bill!