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Senators Introduce Juvenile Justice System Reform Bills

In a series of bills introduced this week, Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) are supporting a plan that would significantly reform the criminal justice systems. In a press conference this week, the lawmakers introduced four bills modifying how children are treated in California’s justice system. If passed, these bills could do away with incarceration for children under 12 years old and ban life sentences without parole for anyone under 18.

SB 190 ends the practice of charging administrative fees to families when children are held in detention

SB 394 makes juvenile offenders sentenced to life terms eligible for parole consideration after 25 years

SB 395 requires a lawyer to be present before a child waives his/her Miranda rights during a law enforcement interrogation

SB 439 sets a minimum age for the juvenile court system, removing anyone under 12 years old from its jurisdiction

The authors argue these changes will reverse the racial inequities they believe exist in these cases, particularly for young offenders. In terms of similar bills affecting the adult criminal justice system, they include the following:

SB 180 sets some limits on enhanced sentences for prior drug convictions

SB 355 does away with court fees for defendants unless they are convicted

SB 393 allows arrest records to be sealed if the defendant was not convicted of the crime

SB 695 creates a tiered system for the state sex offender registry and allow lower-level offenders to petition to remove themselves from the list

All of these bills will be heard in committee in the coming months. Stay tuned...