Please Send AB 1308 Letter of Support by Today – Fairer Sentencing for Youth Through Age 25

Today (April 20) is the last day to get a letter in for AB 1308 before next Tuesday’s Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing. Please send an organizational letter to support fairer sentencing for youth through age 25 across California.
 
E-mail your letter to elizabeth.potter@asm.ca.gov by 4PM.
 
Please e-mail us a copy of your letters and we can also make sure they are registered for the hearing next week – action@youth4justice.org. Thank you!
 
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Sample letter:
CUT AND PASTE THIS LETTER ONTO YOUR ORGANIZATION’S LETTERHEAD
TO SUPPORT AB 1308 – EXTEND FAIRER SENTENCING FOR YOUTH THROUGH AGE 25
 
Date
 
The Honorable Mark Stone, Member
California State Assembly
State Capitol, Room 3146
Sacramento, CA 95814
 
By facsimile: (916) 319-2129
By email: rebecca.marcus@asm.ca.gov
 
RE: Support for Assembly Bill 1308 (Stone)
 
Dear Assembly Member Stone:
 
[Your Organization Name] supports Assembly Bill 1308 (AB 1308). We believe California should treat young people fairly, and recognize that young people who were convicted for a crime that occurred before they were 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, recoginize and repair harm, heal from trauma and victimization, and return home to their families and communities. This bill would also increase incentives to participate in programming and decrease violence, suicide and other mental health challenges in the state prison system by increasing hope for eventual release.
 
[Insert paragraph here describing your organization and why you care about this issue.]
 
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. This is 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.
 
For these reasons, we support AB 1308 and urge the legislature to pass this important bill.
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Signature
Your Name
Your Title
 
Again, please e-mail us a copy of your letter – action@youth4justice.org – and we can also make sure it is included in the bill’s analysis for next week’s hearing.
 
If you can come to Sacramento next Tuesday, April 25, please attend the Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing to speak out in support of AB 1308: California State Capitol, Room 126, 9AM
 
Thank you your support!

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