Fair Sentencing for Youth

 

   

Stand up for kids. YOUR Reps in Sacramento need to hear from YOU. Take two minutes, and sign a letter in support of SB 1391!

An important bill that seeks to overturn California’s law permitting 14- and 15-year-olds to be sent to adult court and face adult prison terms cleared a hurdle April 3 when it passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee with five yes votes and one no. When it came time for those in the audience to express support, more than three-quarters of the room stood and lined up for the mic in a strong show of support for protecting youth from the harm of incarceration and being tried as adults.  During the hearing, Senator Bradford addressed the representatives of the several law enforcement associations that opposed the bill, “If this was your 14- or 15-year-old, what options would you want for them? And I guarantee you wouldn’t want them in an adult court, you wouldn’t want them in an adult prison, and I stake my life on that,” and announced his support for the bill.He went on to say, “…[A]gain, these are black and brown kids who are being suffered and being sent to prison like this… [T]hey belong in a juvenile court, not in an adult court, not in adult prison and… as Senator Lara stated, let’s talk about the trauma that has impacted many of these young folks who are on the wrong path.  What has happened in the home, what has happened in the community? …[S]tudies… have shown some kids from 12 to 14 have the same symptoms as individuals that have gone to war, because of the trauma and violence they see in their communities. To sit here and say they are ready to go to adult prison, I just find that absurd and I would strongly support this bill and I hope I can be added as a co-author to this measure as well, and only ask for more common-sense legislation as we move forward.”As common-sense as this bill seems, the law enforcement opposition means it will have a difficult time being passed if senators and assembly members do not hear from people. It will be heard next on April 23rd in the Appropriations Committee. This is the time to act, and to tell your Senator and Assembly Member that they must support this bill! Head over to the Take Action page to sign letters in support of SB 1391, it will take two minutes out of your day.Spread the word about SB 1391 and help us protect the lives of 14- and 15-year-old children.

 

 

 

Help Stop California from treating 14 and 15-year-olds as adults.

Hear from Daniel about why this is important. THEN, STAND UP FOR YOUTH. Read about SB 1391 hereThen, take two minutes and print and sign a letter of support. Click here for letters you can use. Believe us: Letters really make an impact.

No one thinks a 14 or 15-year-old is an adult, right? Wrong. California does.

 In this state a 14 or 15-year-old can be sent to adult court, tried as an adult, and sentenced to adult prison terms, including life in prison. TAKE TWO MINUTES TO HELP END THIS PRACTICE WITH A LETTER. They can’t drive, buy a lottery ticket, go to an R-rated movie, purchase a beer or cigarettes. Yet, if they commit a crime, they can be treated just like an adult and lose the chance for rehabilitation in the juvenile system. It’s wrong to give up on children, and it is time for the law to be changed. A new bill would end this practice. But it needs your help if it is going to become law.
STAND UP FOR YOUTH.
Read about the bill hereThen, take two minutes and print and sign a letter of support. Click here for letters you can use. Believe us: Letters really make an impact.
A 14 or 15-year-old is #NotAnAdult. #PassSB1391.
Prison sentences are #NotRightforaChild. #PassSB1391.
Our youth deserve #CareNotCages. #PassSB1391.

SPREAD SOME HOLIDAY LOVE AND HEALING!

Donate to the CARES Holiday Project 2017: Gifts for murder victim family members.

Joy and happiness fill our lives during the holidays, but for some, it can be especially tough who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Please join CARES in raising money to provide gifts to murder victim families during the holiday season. The 5th Annual CARES Holiday Project is a chance to give to families who have suffered the unimaginable.

Please consider donating any amount (no amount is too small). We truly appreciate your generosity!

This project is a reminder that compassion and connection can overcome so many barriers. Every year dozens of families receive these gifts and are incredibly grateful for the kind gesture. They are especially moved that the people giving are family and friends of those in prison, and people in prison themselves.

We cannot do this without your help, we invite you to support our community of healing friends and family this holiday season.

Send your donation to:
HRW CARES Victim Holiday Gifts
11500 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. 540
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!

 

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.