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California Youth Sentencing Legislation Facing Vote Soon

| August 9, 2011

California Senate Bill 9 was originally introduced in December of last year, and the amended version of the bill passed in the Senate in May.  It has just moved through the Assembly committee on Public Safety, and it will now go through the Appropriations committee, and then the Assembly at large for a vote, according to an article from the Fair Sentencing for Youth project.

SB 9 is a groundbreaking piece of legislation for California juvenile justice. The bill recognizes that youth offenders have a unique capacity to change themselves and it improves access to the rehabilitative tools for them to do so.

If passed, the legislation would “provide an opportunity for review and resentencing after many years of incarceration for youth sentenced to life without parole.”  Furthemore, “[r]ecognizing that teenagers are still maturing, this act creates specific criteria and an intense, three-part review process that would result in the possibility of a lesser sentence for those offenders who have matured and proven themselves to be changed.”

Even if the offenders are resentenced, they will still face a parole board and be required to prove that they deserve release to community supervision, just like any other prisoner.  SB 9 allows for up to three review hearings for each offender serving a life sentence without parole, and it requires a statement of remorse and rehabilitation as a condition of sentence reduction.

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