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.

CARESCall February 5, 2019: Learn about Root & Rebound reentry services, and their work for prison-impacted women in the Central Valley!

Felicia Espinosa.

Did you miss our CARESCall on February 5? We welcomed Root & Rebound’s KC Taylor, associate director, Southern & Central California programs and litigation, and Felicia Espinosa, Fresno site director and staff attorney, to the CARESCall for an informative discussion of the wide range of services offered by Root & Rebound and an introduction to a holistic approach to legal services and reentry for women. Root & Rebound is an organization dedicated to the success of people coming home from prison. It seeks to educate, empower, and support people who are in reentry or preparing for release, and it also helps those who support people coming home.

On this CARESCall, you learn about Root & Rebound’s holistic approach to wraparound services. This is available to prison-impacted women in the Fresno area.

K.C. Taylor.

Root & Rebound’s Fresno office serves women in reentry to help them navigate the systems and structures that create unnecessary barriers to opportunity. A reentry attorney, a case manager, and an employment coach work to empower women and their families by creating pathways to employment and financial stability.

The services & support include:

  • Counseling and Social Service Support
  • Employment Support and Leadership Coaching
  • Legal Advocacy

This Root & Rebound initiative addresses the need for reentry and criminal justice investments targeted to meet the specific needs of women.

Listen to the recording by clicking on this link.

This Tuesday,
February 5, 2019, 8:00 pm
Felicia Espinosa and K.C. Taylor of
Root and Rebound
All are welcome!
Call: (515) 604-9384    
Code: 313882#

We’re hoping you can join us for what is sure to be a powerful discussion!


More about our CARESCall panelists:

Felicia Espinosa

Fresno Site Director and Staff Attorney

Ms. Espinosa is the Fresno Reentry Women & Employment Initiative Site Director and Staff Attorney. She received her J.D. from University of San Francisco School of Law in 2009. Prior to joining Root  Rebound, Ms. Espinosa worked as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Fresno. In addition to her legal work, Ms. Espinosa has taught courses in the Women’s Studies Department at Fresno State.

While attending law school, Ms. Espinosa worked with death row inmates at the State Public Defender’s Office, and in Houston at the Texas Defender Service through the Keta Taylor Colby Death Row Project. She also represented individuals charged with misdemeanors at USF’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic and the Public Defender’s Offices in Alameda and Fresno County. Outside of work, Ms. Espinosa also serves her community by sitting on the Board of Directors for Fresno Barrios Unidos (FBU) and does pro bono work with Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), handling asylum cases for unaccompanied children.

K.C. Taylor

Associate Director, Southern & Central California Programs and Litigation

Ms. Taylor is an attorney and the Associate Director of Southern & Central California Programs and Litigation at Root & Rebound. She received her J.D. in 2011 from University of San Francisco School of Law (USF). While at USF, Ms. Taylor worked with death row inmates at the Mississippi Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel, represented individuals facing criminal prosecution with USF’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic, and advocated for the abolishment of California’s death penalty with the ACLU of Northern California as a death penalty policy intern.

Following law school, Ms. Taylor worked as a fellow with the Mississippi Innocence Project and focused on exposing forensic fraud in Mississippi’s criminal justice system. She also worked as a staff attorney on the Criminal Central Staff at the California Supreme Court. Prior to joining Root & Rebound, Ms. Taylor was a state-appointed criminal defense attorney, representing individuals in their criminal appeals. She is looking forward to arguing one of her cases before the California Supreme Court within the next year.

CARESCall January 15, 2019: Wondering how to take advantage of the new felony murder law? Join us for an update on SB 1437 with a panel of attorneys.

Senate Bill 1437 went into effect on January 1st, making sweeping changes related to the felony murder rule, and resentencing petitions are starting to appear in county courthouses throughout California. When we get together for our next CARESCall, SB 1437 will have been in effect for just 15 days, and we will have a lot of new information to share.

When a new law is being used for the first time, many things end up being in flux. Judges, attorneys, and courts staff can struggle to figure out their roles and responsibilities, and it is not uncommon for implementation of a new law to vary to some degree from county to county. As a result, everyone has questions.

Our next CARESCall will have answers. We are happy to present a panel of attorneys who will discuss the new law and answer your questions.

Please join us on Tuesday, January 15th at 8 pm when we welcome Kellie Byward, Serena Salinas, and Jacque Wilson to the CARESCall. If you have a loved one inside who was convicted under the felony murder rule and who you think may qualify for resentencing under the new law, this is a CARESCall that you don’t want to miss!

This Tuesday,
January 15, 2019,
8:00 pm
Senate Bill 1437 Update by
Kellie Byward, Serena Salinas, and Jacque Wilson
All are welcome!
Call: (515) 604-9384    
Code: 313882#

We’re hoping you can join us for what is sure to be an enlightening panel discussion!

CARESCall, Tuesday December 18th: Learn from Mike Nelson about resources for healing for people in prison and out.

Dear Friends and Families:

Please join our next CARESCall on Tuesday, December 18th, at 8pm, as we welcome Mike Nelson, a co-founder of San Quentin’s effective and dynamic lifer group, “Kid C.A.T” and now a  wellness educator at the Ahimsa Collective.  Mr. Nelson will discuss the transformative work being done with prisoners, their families, and others on the outside to heal trauma and create real accountability. This call will introduce resources to help all of us and our loved ones in prison to continue on the path of healing.

Mike Nelson (5th from left) with Kid C.A.T. inside San Quentin in 2013. Now many of these members are out of prison thinks to their hard work, the support of Kid C.A.T. & Youth Offender Parole laws. Photo: The Mercury News

Tuesday, December 18th, 8pm
Mike Nelson, of the Ahimsa Collective
All are welcome!
Call: (515) 604-9384
Code: 313882#


More about the Ahimsa Collective:

Restorative Approaches to Intimate Violence
In Prison:  This 12- to 15- month program utilizes restorative justice practices to explore participants’ relationships to intimate violence – which includes family abuse, sexual violence and domestic violence.

For Survivors: This is an opportunity to have one-on-one conversations, connect to resources, and share survivor stories with in-prison groups. This also provides an opening to participate in a victim-offender dialogue process.

Community Circles
Community Circles helps build communities as people work through conflict or harm in families, universities, organizations, community groups, and places of spiritual worship.

Kid C.A.T. (Creating Awareness Together)
Founded by a group of men who have committed crimes as youth and were sentenced to life terms. Kid C.A.T.’s mission is to inspire humanity through education, mentorship, and restorative practices.

Victim Offender Dialogues
This impactful restorative justice model uses face-to-face meetings between the person who was harmed and the person responsible for the harm.

Trauma Education for Law Enforcement and System Professionals
The group offers trauma training for law enforcement and systems professionals, in collaboration with the Transformational Prison Project. People working in law enforcement are provided the tools to process their trauma, so officers are less likely to lose flexibility and their humanity on the job and at home.

More about our CARESCall presenter, Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson was introduced to restorative justice work in 2008 while participating in the Victim Offender Education Group in prison. As someone who committed his crime at the age of 15, Nelson connected early on with his responsibility to hold himself accountable for his choices. He actively contributes to the healing capacity to the communities of people around him. Today, utilizes his capacity to represent those who are currently incarcerated, particularly those who identify as youth offenders. Among other things, he is helping to initiate the Kid C.A.T. model in other prisons. As a co-founder of the Kid C.A.T. program, and imagined the concept behind the Acting with Compassion and Truth program, which supports of the exploration of identity, gender, and sexuality, Nelson is committed to one’s search of the self. 


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.