Fair Sentencing for Youth

 

   

Trying Youth as Adults

No one thinks a 14- or 15-year-old child is an adult, right?

Wrong. California does.

Since 2003, more than 1,500 youth age 15 and younger faced adult court prosecution and adult sentences, including life in prison.

This wasn’t always the law. Only since 1995 has California tried 14- and 15-year-olds as adults.

It’s time to correct course. Governor Brown should sign SB 1391 into law. Learn how to help here.

Before 1995, California treated youth under 16 in the juvenile system where they are required to participate in rehabilitation programs. Prosecuting 14- and 15-year-olds in adult court has weakened, not enhanced, public safety. Decades of research now concludes that youth prosecuted in adult court are more likely to recidivate than youth treated in the juvenile justice system.

The law predominantly affects youth of color, with Black youth more than 11 times more likely, and Latino youth nearly five times as likely as white youth to face prosecution in adult court. In addition to the radical difference in how individual young people are treated, prosecuting 14- and 15-year-olds in adult court has weakened, not enhanced, public safety. Decades of research now concludes that youth prosecuted in adult court are more likely to recidivate than youth treated in the juvenile justice system.

Want to learn more? Click here to read the report Futures Denied: Why California Should Not Prosecute 14- and 15-Year-Olds as Adults.

Read the text of the bill here.