A Progressive Juvenile Justice Reform Model

North America | Juvenile Justice
California has evolved from having one of the most draconian, costly juvenile justice systems to becoming a model of reform. There is still progress to be made, but the last few years of legislative gains are encouraging.  Under a progressive state legislature and the leadership of Gov. Jerry Brown, California has ushered in a staggering number of new laws to correct a flawed, punitive and dysfunctional youth justice system.

Since 2014, the state legislature has passed and the governor signed into law bills automatically sealing juvenile records after successful completion of probation, outlawing the incarceration of youth for truancy, ending solitary confinement and significantly limiting the placement of youth in private residential facilities.

Senate Bill 9 was passed in 2013. It provides a second chance for youth who were under the age of 18 at the time of committing an offense for which they were sentenced as an adult to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The bill allows such youth to request a new sentencing hearing. This bill was later supported by U.S. Supreme Court rulings that outlawed automatic sentencing of children to life in prison.