Senate Bill 9 – California Fair Sentencing for Youth
Senate Bill 9
Senate Bill 9 (also called SB 9) became California law in January 2013. This law gives a second chance to most people who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime and sentenced to life without parole. They can ask the court for a new sentencing hearing. At that hearing, they will have the chance of getting a new sentence with the possibility of parole.
Where can I find SB 9 in the law?
SB 9 is in the California Penal Code section 1170(d). To read a copy of the new law click here: SB 9 Chaptered.
What does SB 9 do?
SB 9 allows a person who was under 18 years old at the time of a crime and sentenced to life without paraole to submit a request to have a new sentencing hearing.
Is anyone excluded or left out of this law?
Yes. This law does not help people who:
- were 18 or older at the time of the crime;
- were not sentenced to life without parole;
- were sentenced to life without parole for a crime in which the defendant tortured his or her victim;
- were sentenced to life without parole for a crime in which the victim was a public safety official, including any law enforcement personnel, or
- have already been in custody more than 25 years.
SB 9 is no “get out of jail free” card. It is a chance to ask a judge to reconsider the LWOP sentence and give the chance to go in front of the parole board at some point in the future. But getting a new sentence with the possibility of parole is no guarantee the parole board will find the person rehabilitated and order parole. People sentenced to JLWOP have hard work to do: They need to do everything they can to stay out of trouble in prison, focus on self-improvement in any way they can, and develop remorse for the crime and compassion for victims. There’s no question that SB 9 is a hard road—but it is a chance for a chance.
If you have questions about this law and how it might be applied to an individual’s case, please consult an attorney. These individuals can seek other ways to have their sentences reviewed, including researching whether the US Supreme Court case Miller v. Alabama applies to their situation. Write to the Prison Law Office for more information: www.prisonlaw.com, Prison Law Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964.
People who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole should have received information about the new law. If you know someone who did not receive a letter in February 2013, please write to the Prison Law Office, General Delivery, San Quentin, CA 94964, and ask for the SB 9 materials.
If you know someone who was under the age of 18 at the time of a crime for which he or she was sentenced to life WITH parole, please join Fair Sentencing for Youth and help change California’s laws. Go to the “Take Action” page on this website.