Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill Tuesday that sought to help judges decide which juvenile crimes were serious enough to merit prosecution in adult court. In a statement, Schwarzenegger said the bill would “seriously compromise public safety” by preventing some of California’s most dangerous juvenile offenders from being tried as adults. He also suggested that the measure would erode a ballot initiative, approved by voters in 2000, that sought to toughen penalties for young criminals.
The bill’s author, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), said “the governor made a mistake.” She said her measure, which had extensive support, was merely designed to guide judges and eliminate ambiguity in the law. Advocates of the bill said they were puzzled and surprised by the governor’s veto. “This is totally bizarre,” said Carole Shauffer, an attorney with the nonprofit Youth Law Center in San Francisco. “It appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to juvenile crime rather than a thoughtful response to this particular issue.”