In California, Teens Tried as Adults Get Second Chance

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A combination of a change in California law and newly elected L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s policy of refusing to try teens as adults has resulted in the possibility of juvenile defendants who received adult sentences, but should have been tried as juveniles, being given a chance at being resentenced, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In 2016, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 57, a sweeping criminal justice reform bill that barred prosecutors from trying juveniles as adults without a judge’s approval. That same law allowed previously convicted juvenile defendants whose cases were directly filed in adult court to retroactively seek what is known as a transfer hearing, in which prosecutors have to convince a judge the defendant should have been tried as an adult. If a judge rules such a case should have been tried in juvenile court, then those previously convicted defendants are resentenced to far shorter prison terms, as defendants in juvenile court cannot be held past the age of 25. The law’s effects are gaining renewed scrutiny in the wake of Gascón’s election and his opposition to trying juveniles as adults, marking the latest tug of war between victim rights advocates and criminal justice reformers as Gascón tries to modernize the policies of the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office.

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