California is offering breaks to juvenile offenders serving long prison terms as a result of their convictions in adult court, says the Sacramento Bee. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to allow some offenders serving life-without-parole terms for murders they committed before turning 18 to ask courts for resentencing after they serve 15 years. As of 2009, there were 2,623 inmates sentenced as juveniles who were serving life terms in California prisons. More than 300 are serving life terms without parole.
Sue Burrell of the the Youth Law Center in San Francisco says, “Crime is down, and juvenile crime in particular has really, really dropped. There isn’t that sense any longer that juvenile predators are on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Along with that, there’s an increased recognition that kids really are different than adults, and you need to take that into account at sentencing.” Arrests for violent juvenile offenses in California dropped 35 percent between 2006 and 2011. Former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said a huge reason for the decrease was the tough approach toward juvenile crime taken by the legislature, the courts, and the voters.