CA’s Brown Signs Juvenile Justice Reform Bills

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California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed nine bills to aid young people facing charges and serving time, a victory for a statewide coalition of criminal justice groups that brought together celebrities and former youth offenders in a push to divert children from a path to prison, the Los Angeles Times reports. The new laws will increase parole opportunities and ease punishment for people who committed crimes as children or teens. They will allow courts to seal some juvenile records and limit the fees that counties charge families with children in juvenile detention. “Sadly, too many poor kids and kids of color today are more likely to end up as victims of the juvenile justice system,” said Sen. Holly  Mitchell, who introduced five of the bills. If one believes that our children will be tomorrow’s leaders then we must look through a child-development lens.”

Legislation to alter California’s approach to juvenile justice brought hip-hop artist Common to the state Capitol to lobby lawmakers and publicize the cause with a free concert. At committee hearings and Sacramento rallies, former youth offenders shared their stories of clashes with police and incarceration. A nonprofit co-founded by media commentator Van Jones, #cut50, is working to revamp criminal justice policies and sponsored some of the bills, including a measure that will allow offenders who committed a crime before the age of 23 to apply for the youth offender parole process.

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