GOVERNOR BROWN-SIGN SIX BILLS FOR YOUTH JUSTICE!!

Thank you for all your calls and letters so far!!!
If you haven’t already, pleeeeeeze, write and call Governor Brown and urge him to sign these bills into law.
Sample letters of support are included on the bottom of this e-mail.

Email your letters to the governor’s office at leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
and send a copy to us at action@youth4justice.org so we can make sure they are recorded.

Then, ask everyone you know to call the Governor’s office
and push him to sign these bills!
(916) 445-2841

DEADLINE FOR HIS SIGNATURE IS THIS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15TH!
Thank you!!!

 

AB 90 – Weber – Gang Databases Accountability, Accuracy and Oversight
Moratorium on use of shared gang databases until issues exposed by state audit are addressed; blocks federal law enforcement access to shared gang databases for immigration enforcement; moves oversight of CalGang and shared databases that feed into it away from law enforcement to State Department of Justice.

AB 1308 – Stone – Fair Sentencing
Extends relief of extreme sentencing through a “youthful offender parole hearing” won with the passing of SB 260 and SB 261 to youth up to age 25.

SB 190 – Mitchell – Eliminates Court and Detention Fees
Ends billing of families for time youth are in juvenile hall, camps, as well as mandatory court fees. SB 190 will stop the assessment of fees for youth under 18 for detention (WIC 903), probation supervision (WIC 903.2), electronic monitoring (WIC 903.2), representation by counsel / defender fees (WIC 903.1), and drug testing (WIC 729.9). SB 190 does not eliminate fees for diversion programs, counseling, etc.

SB 394 – Lara – End Youth LWOP – Youth Under 18 Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Prison
Builds on SB 9 and ends LWOP for Youth (Under18); brings California in line with US Supreme Court ruling in Montgomery – “Youth LWOP is cruel and unusual.”  Montgomery v. Louisiana, (2016), US Supreme Court case in which the Court held that its previous ruling in Miller v. Alabama, (2012), that a mandatory LWOP sentence should not apply to persons convicted of murder committed as youth under 18 should be applied retroactively. This decision potentially affects up to 2,300 cases nationwide.  Montgomery is one in a series since 2005 that have mitigated the harshness of sentencing of juveniles and persons who committed crimes as juveniles. It is based in part on scientific evidence showing that juvenile brains are not fully developed, and therefore youth cannot be held to the same equivalent to those of adults. Roper v. Simmons (2005), the US Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote established that the death penalty for children under 18 was unconstitutional. In Graham v. Florida (2010), the US Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to impose mandatory life sentence without parole on prisoners who committed non-murder crimes as juveniles.  Two years later, in Miller v. Alabama (2012), the Court by a 5-4 vote decided that mandatory LWOP sentences should not apply to persons who committed the crime as youth under 18.

SB 395 – Lara – Youth Protections Against Police Interrogation Without Counsel
Miranda rights for youth 15 and under – guaranteed opportunity to consult with an attorney before police interrogation.

SB 620 – Bradford – Fairer Sentencing
Eliminates mandatory gun enhancements in California courts and returns discretion to judges.

SAMPLE LETTERS

 

  1. AB 90 – SHARED GANG DATABASES

 

[PRINT ON YOUR LETTERHEAD]
Email your letters to the governor’s office at leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
and send a copy to us at action@youth4justice.org so we can make sure they are recorded.

DATE

Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor, State of California
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814


Re: Support of Assembly Bill 90 – Weber – Gang Databases – Accuracy and Fairness

Dear Governor Brown:

Name your group or organization urges you to sign Assembly Bill 90 that will address accuracy and fairness in the collection and accessing of gang allegations through CalGang and other shared gang databases, including enacting reforms outlined in the 2016 audit of shared gang databases released by the California State Auditor.

Law enforcement agencies throughout California collect personal information to label and track hundreds of thousands of people suspected of gang membership in order to target them for gang suppression. The vast majority of this documentation occurs outside any ongoing investigation of specific crimes. The largest system for accessing this information is the CalGang system, which is now used by over 6,000 law enforcement officers in at least 56 counties. Two recently passed state laws – SB 458 (Wright) and AB 2298 (Weber) – began the process of addressing accuracy, consistency and transparency in regards to shared gang databases by guaranteeing all people the right to be notified if they are designated a gang associate, affiliate or member; the right to challenge their designation at the agency level; the right to appeal an unfavorable decision to the civil court; the right to be notified if they are removed; and the right to have annual data released to the public each year delineating the numbers and demographics (race, gender, age, location) of people added and removed from shared gang databases.  AB 90 will enact several additional changes aimed at improving accuracy and fairness in the designation and sharing of gang allegations.

In August of 2016, the California State Auditor released findings of the first ever investigation into the workings and impact of CalGang and the other shared gang databases that feed into it across the state.  The audit revealed many concerns, including that1. CalGang’s oversight structure is inadequate and does not ensure that user agencies collect and maintain criminal intelligence in a manner that preserves individuals’ privacy rights; 2. The governing entities act without statutory authority, transparency, or public input; 3. There is “little evidence” that the governing entities have ensured user agencies to comply with federal regulations regarding databases; 4. Only 0.2 percent of CalGang’s statewide individual records are reviewed each year; 5. The investigators could not substantiate the validity of numerous CalGang entries; 6. Gang databases were “tracking people who do not appear to justifiably belong in the system;” 7. User agencies that responded to the auditor’s statewide survey admitted that they use CalGang for employment or military-related screenings which is prohibited; 8. User agencies have not ensured that CalGang records are added, removed, and shared in ways that maintain system accuracy and safeguard individuals’ rights; and 
9. Despite the enactment of SB 458 in 2013, many youth and their parents were not properly notified of their designation prior to adding them to CalGang nor afforded the right to contest gang designations.

AB 90 will:

  • Provide law enforcement greater access to useful crime prevention and investigation tools by increasing the accuracy of shared gang databases;
  • Move oversight and administration of the CalGang Database to the State Department of Justice (DOJ);
  • Prohibit federal access to CalGang and other shared gang databases in California for the purpose of immigration enforcement;
  • Place a moratorium on the use of CalGang (including accessing or adding to the database) until the concerns raised by the state audit (released in August, 2016) are resolved; and
  • Make small, but important changes to clean up current state law as recommended by California State Judicial Council.

Write a paragraph here about your organization and why this issue is important to you.

For all of these reasons, we urge you to sign AB 90.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Signature
Name
Title

  1. AB 1308 – FAIR SENTENCING

 [PRINT ON YOUR LETTERHEAD]
Email your letters to the governor’s office at leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
and send a copy to us at action@youth4justice.org so we can make sure they are recorded.

Date

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
California State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Re: AB 1308 (Stone) – Request for Signature

Dear Governor Brown:

Name your organization/group/church is urging your signature on Assembly Bill 1308 (AB 1308.) We recognize that young people who were convicted for a crime that occurred under the age of 26 are still developing their ability to fully understand the consequences of their actions and assess risks. Our laws should reflect the fact that young people deserve opportunities to develop skills, recognize and repair harm, heal from trauma and victimization, and return home to their families and communities. This bill also increases incentives to participate in programming and decreases violence, suicide and other mental health challenges in the state prison system by increasing hope for eventual release.

Assembly Bill 1308 would expand to age 25 the existing Youth Offender Parole process.  AB 1308 would require a young person who was 25 years old or younger at the time of a crime and sentenced to a long adult prison term serve a minimum of 15, 20, or 25 years in prison, depending on the seriousness of the crime – a substantial amount of time for any young person. Then, at a parole board hearing, commissioners would consider the age of the person at the time of the incident and his or her subsequent growth and accomplishments. There would be no guarantee of parole, just a chance to be treated fairly and an opportunity to prove oneself. This model already exists in California law as Youth Offender Parole, and is being used with success with people who were 22 or younger at the time of the incident and sentenced to adult prison terms. The rate of parole grants is not high, and the recidivism rate is extremely low.

California already recognizes in several ways the need to protect and provide special opportunities to young people. Among other things, state law extends foster care services to age 21; sets Division of Juvenile Justice jurisdiction at age 23; and provides special opportunities for young adults in prison up to age 25. California recently raised to age 21 the age at which one can buy cigarettes, the same age required to use alcohol. These laws are based in part on scientific evidence concluding that certain areas of the brain, particularly those that affect judgment and decision-making, do not fully develop until the mid-20’s.

Furthermore, for many years, California has sought to address prison overcrowding and reduce unnecessary expenditures on incarceration. The state should focus our resources where they are most needed and choose pathways to reducing incarceration that emphasize rehabilitation. Passage of AB 1308 would save millions of state dollars.

Add a paragraph about why this bill is important to you and/or your organization.

For all of these reasons, I urge you to sign this important bill.

Sincerely,

Signature
Name
Title


  1. SB 190 ENDING BILLING OF FAMILIES FOR TIME YOUTH ARE IN THE SYSTEM

[PRINT ON YOUR LETTERHEAD]
Email your letters to the governor’s office at leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
and send a copy to us at action@youth4justice.org so we can make sure they are recorded.

 

DATE

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
California State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Re: SB 190 (Mitchell and Lara) – Request for Signature

Dear Governor Brown:

Name your organization/group/church is urging your signature on Senate Bill 190 (authored by Senators Mitchell and Lara). SB 190 will end the harmful, unlawful, and costly assessment and collection of administrative fees charged to families with youth in the juvenile court and custody.

Write a paragraph about why this bill is important to you.


Background

Under current state law, counties can charge a range of administrative fees to parents or guardians with youth in juvenile court or custody. Parents are charged for their child’s public defender or court-appointed attorney, for every night their child is detained, and for the electronic (GPS) monitoring, probation supervision, and drug testing of their child.

Research by the Policy Advocacy Clinic at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law found that 53 of California’s 58 counties charge juvenile administrative fees. Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara Counties have all recently repealed or suspended their assessment and collection of fees. Los Angeles County imposed a moratorium on juvenile fee assessments in 2009, and San Francisco has never charged juvenile fees. Other counties charge fees that significantly vary by type and amount. For example, nearly all counties charge families a detention fee, which ranges from $11.52 per day in Imperial County to $40 per day in San Luis Obispo County.

The California legislature authorizes fees “to protect the fiscal integrity of the county, to protect persons against whom the county seeks to impose liability from excessive charges, to ensure reasonable uniformity throughout the state in the level of liability being imposed, and to ensure that liability is imposed only on persons with the ability to pay.” These fees are not supposed to be punitive, restorative, or rehabilitative. Under state law, separate measures exist to hold youth accountable for their mistakes by punishing them for delinquency and requiring them to repay victims who have been harmed through restitution and restitution fines. This bill would not impact those provisions.

Juvenile Administrative Fees Harm Vulnerable Families, Particularly Families of Color

Juvenile administrative fees impose significant harms on families who cannot afford to pay them. Once assessed, juvenile fees become a civil judgment and can be referred to the state Franchise Tax Board for wage garnishment or tax refund intercept. As a result, families who are living paycheck-to-paycheck may suddenly find that they are unable to cover basic expenses, like rent or groceries. The fees also weaken ties between youth and their parents by adding more stress to family relationships, ultimately undermining family reunification and the stated rehabilitative purpose of the juvenile system.

Because of discrimination at every stage of the process, youth of color are overrepresented in the juvenile system compared to White youth even when controlling for underlying charges. For example, Black youth in California are four times more likely to be arrested than White youth but over seven times more likely to be detained, incarcerated, and put on probation. Latino youth are almost twice as likely as White youth to be detained and put on probation, and almost three times as likely to be incarcerated. As a result of these disparities, families of color are liable for higher juvenile fee amounts. For instance, prior to Alameda County’s juvenile fee repeal, the family of a Black youth serving average probation conditions was liable for more than double the juvenile administrative fees ($3,438) as the family of a White youth serving average probation conditions ($1,637).


Counties Unlawfully Assess and Collect Some Juvenile Administrative Fees 

Counties are required to assess and collect juvenile administrative fees in accordance with relevant state and federal law. The Policy Advocacy Clinic found a number of unlawful fee policies and practices. Some counties charge fees that violate state law, including charging fees that may only be imposed on adults, charging fees that exceed statutory maximums, and charging families of innocent youth.


Juvenile Administrative Fees Are Costly to Counties and Society

Although state law authorizes counties to charge juvenile administrative fees to protect their fiscal integrity, most counties generate little net revenue from the fees. Most families with youth in the juvenile system cannot afford to pay the fees, so recovery rates and net collection are low. For example, in fiscal year 2014-15, Orange County—which collects more fee revenue than any other county in the state—spent more than $1.7 million to collect just over $2 million in juvenile administrative fees. In other words, more than 80% of what the county recovered paid for collection activity and staffing, not for the care and supervision of youth.


We Urge Support for SB 190

The goals of the juvenile justice system include preserving and strengthening family ties and facilitating the speedy “reunification of the minor with his or her family.” Research shows that juvenile administrative fees frustrate these goals by harming families financially, straining family relations, and increasing recidivism. Many of the fees are also being imposed unlawfully, and counties are failing to adequately determine whether families can afford to pay the fees. Research further shows that many counties collect little net revenue from the fees, and most of what they recover pays for collection activity, not for the care and supervision of youth.

By ending the assessment of juvenile administrative fees, SB 190 will reduce the financial burden on the state’s most vulnerable families and support the reentry of youth back into their homes and communities.

For these reasons, we urge you to sign SB 190.

Sincerely,

Signature
Name
Title

  1. SB 394 – END YOUTH LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE

[PRINT ON YOUR LETTERHEAD]
Email your letters to the governor’s office at leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
and send a copy to us at action@youth4justice.org so we can make sure they are recorded.DATE

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
California State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Re: SB 394 (Lara) – Request for Signature

Dear Governor Brown:

Name your organization/group/church is urging your signature on Senate Bill 394 (Lara) a bill that would bring California law into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision inMontgomery v. Louisiana (2016), and give individuals serving life without parole for crimes they committed as youth the opportunity to work for parole.

Write a paragraph about why this bill is important to you and/or your organization.

SB 394 brings California into compliance with recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Current California law allows youth to be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. But, U.S. Supreme Court rulings made clear that our state’s use of the sentence was unconstitutional. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life without parole sentences are cruel and unusual, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, for most youth under age 18 and should only be used “in the rarest” of circumstances. 

Building on Miller, in Montgomery (2016), the Court ruled that every person serving a juvenile life without parole sentence must go back into court and have a full resentencing hearing. Such hearings are extremely costly – both in time and money – and risk years of litigation. Recognizing these burdens on states, the Supreme Court offered an alternative: states could instead follow the lead of Wyoming, where young people sentenced to life without parole for an incident that occurred before they were 18 get a parole hearing after 22 years of incarceration. If passed, SB 394 would provide youth sentenced to life without parole the possibility of parole after the person has served a minimum of 25 years.

SB 394 builds consistency in the way that California treats youth across different laws.

Under state and federal law, people under the age of 18 cannot use alcohol, sign a lease, represent themselves in civil court, join the military, or vote. California recently raised the age to purchase cigarettes to 21, the same age required to use alcohol. State and federal laws argue that young people are not mature enough for these responsibilities. Yet, in California, youth are transferred into adult court and sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed before they were 18 – a sentence that the U.S. Supreme Court has called the youth death penalty.

SB 394 brings California closer to national and international standards.

In recent years, numerous states have changed their laws to prohibit the use of life without parole for youth. The United States remains as the only country in the world that imposes life without parole on youth under the age of 18.  Nationwide, there are more than 2,500 youth who have been sentenced to life without parole. There are at least 300 people serving this sentence in California. Throughout the rest of the world combined, there are none. This extreme punishment is a violation of international law and fundamental human rights.

SB 394 challenges California to address unjust racial and age disparities in sentencing.

California’s use of life without parole sentences for youth is particularly unjust. Racial disparities in the imposition of this sentence are among the worst in the country. In California, African American youth are sentenced to life without parole at a rate that is 18 times that of white youth. In 56 percent of the cases in which a youth sentenced to life without parole had an adult codefendant, the adult got a lesser sentence than the youth. In 45% of California cases surveyed, youth sentenced to life without parole did not physically commit the murder, but instead were convicted for their role under the felony murder rule or aiding and abetting law.

SB 394 increases hope, promotes rehabilitation and reduces violence in the state prison system by providing an opportunity for parole.  
When California condemns a young person to die in prison, it disregards the human capacity for rehabilitation, the ability of people to grow and change, and the very real physical and psychological differences between youth and adults. No one, not even a judge or a psychologist, can accurately predict who a 16 or 17-year-old will be in 25 years. Senate Bill 394 maintains severe sentences for youth convicted of the most serious crimes, but also gives youth a meaningful opportunity to work toward parole.  Even corrections staff and administrators argue that parole opportunities increase hope and therefore safety – for both incarcerated people and CDCR staff throughout the state’s prison system.  In order for a person to be released, Senate Bill 394 requires that the parole board and Governor assess concrete evidence about the choices and progress made by the person during at least 25 years of incarceration.

SB 394 helps to address prison overcrowding and saves money. For many years, California has sought to address prison overcrowding and reduce unnecessary expenditures on incarceration. It costs more than $2.5 million dollars to incarcerate each person sentenced to Juvenile Life Without Parole (JLWOP). Under S.B. 394, individuals serving JLWOP who prove to the parole board and Governor that they have focused on rehabilitation and do not pose a risk to the community could be released. By reducing spending on extreme sentencing, S.B. 394 would save California hundreds of millions of dollars.  

For all of these reasons, name of your group or organization  urges you to sign SB 394.

Sincerely,

Signature
Name
Title

 

  1. SB 395 – YOUTH MIRANDA RIGHTS

[PRINT ON YOUR LETTERHEAD]
Email your letters to the governor’s office at leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
and send a copy to us at action@youth4justice.org so we can make sure they are recorded.

DATE

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
California State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Re: SB 395 (Lara) – Request for Signature

Dear Governor Brown:

Name your organization/group/church is urging your signature on Senate Bill 395 (Lara).

Write a paragraph about why SB 395 is important to you.

Law, science, and common experience all conclude that, as compared to adults, youth have less information and experience needed to understand and exert their rights, and are significantly more vulnerable to giving false statements in response to interrogation by law enforcement.  Senate Bill 395 would require youth under 18 to consult with counsel prior to waiving their rights. This will preserve youth’s constitutional rights and ensure greater integrity, accuracy and oversight of our juvenile and criminal systems.

Currently, youth in California can waive their Miranda rights on their own, as long as the waiver was made in a “voluntary, knowing, and intelligent manner.”  Yet research demonstrates that young people often fail to comprehend the meaning of Miranda. Young people are also less likely to appreciate the consequences of giving up these rights, and are more susceptible to law enforcement coercion and threats during questioning. Research has also shown that through long and stressful interrogations, youth are more likely to seek to “please” their interrogators, and are swayed by promises that they will be released or granted leniency.  Finally, youth are also more likely than adults to confess to crimes they did not commit.  (A recent study of exonerations found that 42 percent of youth had falsely confessed as compared to just 13 percent of adults.)

In fact, courts have noted that young people are more vulnerable than adults to interrogation and have a limited understanding of the juvenile and criminal system. These problems are amplified for youth who are very young, or who have language barriers, developmental disabilities, cognitive delays, or mental health challenges.

In 2013 the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry issued a policy statement, Interviewing and Interrogating Juvenile Suspects, recommending that youth should have an attorney present during all questioning by police or other law enforcement agencies. The Academy’s recommendation goes beyond what is proposed by SB 395, which would only require a consultation with counsel prior to any waiver.

By ensuring youth understand their rights, we can ensure the outcome of interrogations are just and lawful, and create greater trust, accountability, and due process for all. 

For these reasons, we urge you to sign SB 395.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Signature
Name
Title

 

  1. SB 620 – JUDICIAL DISCRETION ON GUN ENHANCEMENTS

[PRINT ON YOUR LETTERHEAD]
Email your letters to the governor’s office at leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
and send a copy to us at action@youth4justice.org so we can make sure they are recorded.

DATE

The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
California State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Re: SB 620 (Bradford) – Request for Signature


Dear Governor Brown:

[NAME YOUR ORGANIZATION] is writing to request your signature on Senate Bill 620 (Bradford), which will allow a court, in the interest of justice, to strike a sentence enhancement for using or discharging a firearm when a person is convicted for committing a felony, consistent with other enhancements.

[OPTIONAL: ADD BRIEF INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION]

Unlike most sentence enhancements, which can be dismissed if the judge believes they are unjust in a specific case, gun enhancements are mandatory — judges are forbidden from tailoring a sentence to an individual’s case and culpability. These mandatory terms have thus resulted in a rigid and arbitrary system that has meted out punishments that are disproportionate to the offense and do not serve the interest of justice or public safety.

Although the original intention of firearm enhancements was to deter people from committing crimes with guns, the growing body of research on sentence enhancements for gun use have failed to uncover clear evidence of a deterrent effect, or any public safety benefit at all. Instead, studies show enhancements like these have been the primary drivers of prison overcrowding and our shamefully high rates of incarceration. California now has the regrettable distinction of meting out some of the longest sentences in the nation, and housing the nation’s highest percentage of prisoners serving a life or de facto life sentence. Further, research shows that prosecutors are more likely to charge people of color with mandatory sentence enhancements than they are whites, even for the same crime.

SB 620 does not dispose of any existing sanctions for gun-involved felonies. Rather, SB 620 allows a judge to take into account the nature and severity of the crime, as well as the culpability of the individual, during sentencing. Consequently, SB 620 provides judges the ability to impose sentences that fit the severity of the offense, helping to ensure that incarcerated Californians do not serve unnecessarily long sentences.

For these reasons, [YOUR ORGANIZATION] urges your signature on SB 620. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Signature
Name
Title

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