Fair Sentencing for Youth



Watch this powerful, short video. You will be moved.

See a 13-year-old child being interrogated by the police: It is horrifying.  Hear his mother’s reaction: It is inspiring.  Watch Miranda Rights for Youth.   /  Take action here.


Youth Offender Program: Lower security level for people under age 22. Hear people inside talk about the program.

Click to watch the video and hear young men who’ve just entered prison and benefited from the Youth Offender Program, and older men who wish they’d had it, give advice. When last year AB 1276 became law, young people entering California state prisons got a chance to as one young man describes, not become “fresh meat ” on level IV yards and instead go to yards with education  and vocational opportunities. CDCR just released this video with the voices of men speaking about the program to youth entering prison.

July 19th 8pm CARES Call welcomes home Bernard after 25 years in prison. We’ll learn from him about Youth Offender parole.

JOIN US!  Tuesday night we have a double-header with two wonderful guests: Bernard paroled under SB 261 Youth Offender Parole just a few weeks ago, and Dominik Taylor is a staff attorney from Root and Rebound.  Join us for the CARES for Youth Family and Friends Call on Tuesday, July 19th at 8PM Just call in to join! Everyone is welcome. Call: (641) 715-3670 Code: 817682#

Bernard paroled from prison on June 22nd.

Tuesday night we’ll welcome home Bernard, who did more than 25 years in prison. He had a Youth Offender Parole hearing because he was 22 years old at the time of his crime. Join us to hear the story of how, as a young man, he ended up on a path of destruction and in deep trouble with the law. Then learn how his hard work made parole possible. He became a leader in several prisoner-led groups, helping himself and many others. (For example, he facilitated the Victim Offender Education Group; Victim Offender Education- Next Step; Guiding Rage into Power; and Alliance for Change.)

Bernard has advice for you and your loved one about how to make Youth Offender Parole work for you. Also, he paroled to an out-of-state location, and can describe how that was possible.

Dominik Taylor is a staff attorney at Root and Rebound.

Dominik will tell us about Root & Rebound resources for the CARES community. He will also speak about an upcoming interactive toolkit that will make it possible for you and your loved one inside to work on a timeline of activities together and prepare for reentry. Prior to working for Root and Rebound, Dominik represented non-citizens in deportation hearings; interned at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, New York; the Federal Public Defender in Richmond, Virginia; and at the Supreme Court of Virginia. After graduating from law school, Dominik worked at the San Diego County Public Defender, where he represented people charged with misdemeanors, and was a Law Fellow at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, where he represented people on Alabama’s death row.

Learn about Youth Offender Parole & get an update on family visits!

Tuesday, July 5th at 8pm

Join the call: CARES meeting for Families and Friends

 Learn about Youth Offender Parole from experienced parole attorney, Laura Sheppard

Also! Get a brief update on the status of family visits for lifers

Ms. Sheppard will explain SB 260 / SB 261, Youth Offender Parole and answer your questions.

Join us! Everyone is welcome.  Call: (641) 715-3670  Code: 817682#
Laura Sheppard has worked with lifers since 2009. Her practice also includes trial-level and appellate criminal defense. She trains students and young attorneys in parole work. She has been state-appointed at seven different prisons, and currently has private (retained) clients at 13 prisons.
Ms. Sheppard’s involvement with lifers began as a child, when her parents mentored a lifer through the Match-2 program. Later, this lifer was to become her first client. With her help, he paroled to her parents’ home in 2013, after 38 years in prison. He recently passed away, and Laura considers her work to be his legacy.  Read more about here and get her updates on relevant changes in the law: www.facebook.com/lrsheppardlaw

It’s OFFICIAL! Prop 57 will be on the November Ballot.

In November, California voters across the state will vote on Proposition 57. If passed, people in prison could earn credit toward their sentences by working on rehabilitation in education, vocational training, and treatment. It would also slow the flow of children into adult courts by taking away the authority of DAs to decide the fate of a child, and instead having judges determine whether a youth gets the help available in the juvenile system or faces adult prison terms. Learn more here. Send an email here if you would like updates and want to get involved.

We won! Cal Supreme Court rules in favor of ballot measure moving forward!

The Court ruled six to one in our favor, finding that the amendments were reasonably germane to the original measure. Hooray!!! Congratulations everyone! You can read the opinion here. With the great number of signatures gathered, it is likely nothing will stop us between now and November. (By the end of June we will get the official word as to whether we gathered enough signatures. But we are confident we submitted enough to qualify.) A reminder that there will be a joint legislative hearing on the ballot measure at the California State Capitol Wednesday, June 8th at 9:30. Please let us know if you are planning on being there so we can coordinate. Click here to send an email.  Speaking in support will be three set witnesses: Elizabeth Calvin from Human Rights Watch, Frankie Guzman from Nat’l Center for Youth Law, and Probation Chief Mary Butler.


Youth Miranda Bill Passes in the State Senate!

SB 1052 passed in the state Senate and now heads to the Assembly. Your letters & your calls made this happen. Please help with the next step and a new letter.Click here for an easy sample letter you can use!

Two minutes. REALLY. That’s all it takes to move California closer to just treatment of our children and youth

An important bill will be voted on the week of May 31st. Help by making a single (easy) call. Did you think children and youth have the same constitutional rights as adults? Apparently not in California, where youth can give up their rights without really understanding them. Police officer to 10-year-old: “You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand what means?” Boy: “Yes, sir. It means I have the right to remain calm.” Yep, a CA appellate court found a 10-year-old could make a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of his constitutional rights.

We are trying to change that, and we have a bill to do it. You can read about SB 1052 here: http://fairsentencingforyouth.org/take-action/

Do you live in California? Take 2 minutes (really, just 2) and call your Senator. It is very powerful for a Senator to hear from his or her constituents.
1. Find your senator here: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/
2. Call his or her Sacramento office.
3. You can say something like this:
Hello, I am a constituent and am calling to support a bill.
It is Senate Bill 1052 by Senator Lara.
Would you please let the Senator know I called to urge a yes vote next week on SB 1052?
If the person on the phone asks why you support the bill or if you wish to make a statement, (usually they do not ask this) keep it short and simple. You can say something like:
This bill is fair for youth. We should make sure young people understand their rights.

More than 1 Million Signatures!

We did it! Congratulations to everyone who helped get more than one million signatures to put the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act on the November 2016 ballot. Grassroots efforts across the state pushed the petitions across the finish line by securing over 160,000 signatures. We could not have hit our goal without the volunteer effort and the help of people from all over the state.

The petitions were delivered to county registrars who will start the verification process. We’ll hear by the end of June whether the initiative has officially qualified. If all goes well, soon we can focus on passing it.

If passed, youth as young as 14 who are accused of crimes would have increased access to education and rehabilitative services. It would make judges, not prosecutors the decision-makers about young people’s lives. In addition, the initiative offers provisions intended to incentivize rehabilitation for adults in prison, including allowing increases in sentence credits for people who demonstrate good behavior and engage in rehabilitative programs. Read the text of the Act here. Learn more here.

The NEW Youth Offender Parole Guide

Finally! The improved, updated Youth Offender Parole guide for people in prison and their friends, families and others who support them. Get yours here.