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AB 9, the CA Juvenile Life Bill Passes Hurdle & Hunger Strikes Make Progres

August 19th, 2011 by Celeste Fremon


The AP has the story:

A controversial bill headed for a vote in California has stirred up conversation again about whether life sentences for juveniles need to be re-examined.

Under the state bill, which received a key vote Wednesday to allow it to head to the Assembly floor for a vote, some juvenile offenders would get the opportunity for release.
At the heart of the bill is a question that’s been pondered by legal scholars, law enforcement and even the Supreme Court: Should juveniles who have committed crimes that led to a life prison sentence be given a second chance?

The bill, introduced by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would allow juveniles to ask a court to re-examine their sentences after they have served 15 years for their crime. Yee, who is also a child psychologist, argues that at certain ages, kids don’t have the full capacity to understand their crimes, and locking juveniles up without giving them a chance to show they have gained that capacity isn’t the right answer.

“The neuroscience is clear – brain maturation continues well through adolescence and thus impulse control, planning, and critical thinking skills are not yet fully developed,” Yee said in a statement. “SB 9 reflects that science and provides the opportunity for compassion and rehabilitation that we should exercise with minors.”

California law allows kids as young as 14 to be sentenced to life without parole for certain crimes.

The Patt Morrison Show had a very good segment on the issue that included as one of the guests an attorney whose wife had been horribly murdered by a teenager who lived next door, and who is against the bill.


There has been much disinformation and misinformation on this topic. But the very excellent Sam Stanton at the Sac Bee has a nice, clear well-sourced story. Here’s a clip.

Last month, inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison launched a hunger strike to draw attention to their complaints of being unfairly held in extreme isolation at the Crescent City lockup.

Within three weeks, the prison hunger strike had become one of the largest in years, spreading throughout the state corrections system to involve thousands of inmates and sparking a legislative hearing scheduled for next week.

“We had up to 6,000 (prisoners taking part), including about 300 in Mississippi in our out-of-state facility half the country away, participating in this,” said corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo.

When officials tried to tamp down the protest by moving 17 hunger strike leaders to the state prison in Corcoran, the inmate action spread.

“As soon as they got down to Corcoran, an additional 300 inmates at that institution went on the hunger strike,” Hidalgo said.

he effort ended July 21, after inmates inside the security housing unit at Pelican Bay were promised changes, including being given wool caps for use during winter months and being allowed to have wall calendars.

Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also said they will review policies on how the agency determines which inmates are believed to be gang leaders who are then placed in a security housing unit.

But they insist that inmates inside the SHU, including several who have identified themselves as leaders of the hunger strike, pose a serious threat to others and are there for very good reasons

Read the rest.


The LA Times’ Christopher Goffard, Paloma Esquivel and Teresa Watanabe have the story.

Here’s how it opens:

The Obama administration said it will review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants currently in deportation proceedings to identify “low-priority” offenders — including the elderly, crime victims and people who have lived in the U.S. since childhood — with an eye toward allowing them to stay.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the review as the Obama administration has sought to counter criticism that it has been too harsh in its deportation policies. By launching the case-by-case review, officials said they are refocusing deportation efforts on convicted felons and other “public safety threats.”

The administration’s action was cheered bysome illegal immigrants, notably college students who have been pushing Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would allow them to stay in the country.

“It makes me happy and hopeful,” said Rigoberto Barboza, 21, an undocumented student at Mt. San Antonio College who supports a family of five with a $9-an-hour job at a fast-food restaurant. He said his mother, who brought him to the U.S. from Mexico when he was a boy, is facing deportation. “I hope they go through my mother’s case, stop her deportation and, if possible, get her a work permit.”

Like I said: sane.

But critics labeled the plan as a “blanket amnesty” for a large group of illegal immigrants.

This “clearly demonstrates the Obama administration’s defiance of both the constitutional separation of powers and the will of the American public,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform….

Oh, blah-blah-blah-blah.

Posted in juvenile justice, prison, Sentencing | 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. Bruce S Says:

    You might find this interesting:

  2. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Thanks, Bruce, will check it out!

  3. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Just looked. Yeah. Exactly. But why let logic and actual, you know, facts, dictate our policy.

  4. Sure Fire Says:

    Let them get skinny and weak, better for the guards.

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