The last-minute sentence commutation of a woman serving life without parole for killing her pimp at age 16 has given a California state senator hope this is the year the state abolishes the extreme sentence across the board for juvenile offenders, says the San Mateo County Daily Journal. As one of his last official acts, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger granted clemency to Sara Kruzan, who fatally shot a man in 1994, by reducing her sentence to 25 years to life in prison.
State Sen. Leland Yee argues that all juvenile offenders deserve the chance at rehabilitation and release rather than being incarcerated at a young age with no hope of parole. His proposal to eliminate life without parole sentences has failed so far. Yee's proposal is backed by psychiatric and child advocacy groups but opposed by the California District Attorneys Association and California Police Chiefs Association. Yee cites Kruzan's case as an example of why offenders convicted as juveniles are capable of turning their lives around. Yee says Kruzan, raised by an abusive and drug-addicted mother, was groomed at age 11 for a life of prostitution. George Howard sexually assaulted Kruzan and put her to work at 13. Barely past age 16, Kruzan fatally shot him.