Monday, June 19, 2017

SB 394: Ending Juvenile Life without Parole and AB 1308 expansion to 25 y.o. YOPH (Youth Offender Parole Hearing)

The Law Office of Diane T.  Letarte has been getting many letters and phone calls regarding the expansion of current Juvenile Laws (SB9, SB260, SB261), to hopefully include the new SB394 and AB1308. (see our prior BLOGs on the existing Youth offender laws)

First, everyone must be aware that SB9 applies to only LWOP juveniles, meaning they were under the age of 18 years old when they committed the crime and have no Possibility of Parole. Second, the SB260 and SB261 (under the age of 23 on the day of the crime) ONLY applies to Lifers (with Possibility of Parole) and Determinate Sentence (DSL) Juvenile inmates, not to LWOPs (Life without Possibility of Parole). If we remember the SB9 law, it allowed the JLWOP to petition the Court to be re-sentenced to take into consideration the "Hallmark features of Youth" (more or less) at the time of the crime to mitigate their sentence, thus having the possibility to eliminate the LWOP sentence  to a Life sentence with the Possibility of Parole. LESS GUILTY BY REASON OF ADOLESCENCE - sorta speak!

Having the above juvenile law stated, then we can report that the new SB394 and AB1308 are moving along successfully BUT---- they are NOT law at the writing of this article. In short, SB 394 would automatically send LWOP inmates who were under 18 at the time of their crime to a Parole Hearing after 25 years of incarceration. AB 1308 would extend YOPH (Youth Parole Hearing non-LWOP) considerations to those who were “25 years of age or younger”,  at the time of the crime.

SB 394: Would allow those sentenced to LWOP for crimes committed before the age of 18 to be automatically seen by the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) after 25 years of incarceration. This bill passed the Senate floor, and is now in the Assembly committee process awaiting assignment to committee, expected to be Assembly Public Safety. No date yet set for a vote; We support this bill.


AB 1308: Extends the provision of Youth Offender Parole Suitability Hearings to those who were “25 years of age or younger” at the time of the crime. This bill, which extends (SB260/261) YOPH consideration is now in the Senate committee process, expected to be referred to Senate Public Safety. It cleared the Assembly floor, largely along party line votes. We support this bill. 

Furthermore on SB394, it would remedy the now unconstitutional juvenile sentences of life without the possibility of parole (JLWOP). This bill would:

---Allow the approximate 290 juveniles with LWOP cases to be eligible for an initial parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration. There would be no guarantee of parole, only an opportunity for the person to work hard and try to earn the chance for parole via the Board for a Youth Offender Parole Suitability Hearing (BPH).

---Streamline the process and bring California into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent ruling by making juveniles sentenced to life without parole  (JLWOP) eligible under the state’s existing youth offender parole (SB 260 governed by Penal Code 3051) process.

---Eliminate the need to Petition the Court for a resentencing hearing (if you were under 18 y.o at the time of the crime), which is the current process under the SB9 law.

For a complete legislative FACT sheet (SB394) see Senator Ricardo Lara