Target: California Assembly
Goal: Applaud passing of bill in California that provides parole for youth offenders
A bill passed in the California Assembly will provide parole and rehabilitation opportunities for youth offenders in an effort to make them contributing citizens to society. The process involved in the bill will take into account the youth’s age and the committed crime to determine who is suitable for parole.
Unfortunately many Californian youths are given adult sentences, even if they are under the age of eighteen. Currently California prisons house more 6,500 youth offenders and there are some offenders who were under the age of 14 and over half of those numbers are serving life sentences. This bill tries to take into account the youth’s age and what crime he or she committed so they can be released on parole and enter rehabilitation. However, the bill will only apply to those who have served at least 15 years of their sentence, or were given adult sentences as a youth.
California law is slowly realizing that children develop differently from adults. Three U.S. supreme cases have proved that children are developmentally different than adults because they are able to change their behavior, whereas adults stay stagnant for the majority of their lives. These cases also determined youth offenders cannot be the worst offenders. A case in California where a 16-year-old girl was sentenced to 110 years in prison was deemed by the public to be cruel and unusual, and is an example of a case in which a youth offender was treated unjustly.
This new bill will try to get the youth of California back onto the right paths as contributing citizens to society. Fortunately there were many groups that supported the bill and it passed with a 51 to 21 vote. Youth offenders can still be molded into better people and this bill gives them that opportunity. Sign this bill and applaud the California Assembly for its passage.
Dear California Assembly,
I am writing to thank you for passing the Hancock bill, allowing California’s youth access to parole and possibly a better future. It is true that children are more likely to turn a new leaf than adults, and I am glad that California law is realizing this. With how crowded our prisons are, the youth of California should have more opportunities to rehabilitate into reformed citizens.
I hope that this bill will allow the youth to return back to a normal civilian life, and help decrease the prison population. I am happy that this bill is taking into consideration the youths who were given adult sentences, as the logic behind these sentences boggle me. Children do not belong in prisons, they belong in schools, and with their families. A prison does not provide the skills, happiness or compassion that a growing child needs.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: William Fisher via pubrecord.org