2017 Bills Could Limit Juvenile Shackling, Repeal Sentencing Enhancements, and More

youth shackles

Each year, the California State Legislature considers hundreds of juvenile and criminal justice bills, many of which seek to repair the harms of mass incarceration and bring humane, commonsense reforms to the state’s justice system. This year, members of the Assembly and Senate have introduced public safety bills that address topics as varied as voting rights, access to technology in juvenile facilities, and fair hiring practices. CJCJ is co-sponsoring two bills, SB 190 and SB 439, which will lessen the impact of the justice system on young Californians, and is supporting nearly 20 bills that align with our mission to reduce reliance on incarceration as a solution to social problems. This article highlights three of the criminal and juvenile justice bills CJCJ is supporting this year: AB 878, SB 180, and SB 312.

Assembly Bill 878 (Gipson)

Currently, counties across the state can place youth in restraints such as handcuffs, “belly belts,” and leg shackles while they are in court or during transportation.

Currently, counties across the state can place youth in restraints such as handcuffs, “belly belts,” and leg shackles while they are in court or during transportation. Shackling is stigmatizing and harmful, and can adversely impact a young person’s juvenile court case.

Assembly Bill 878, which is sponsored by the Youth Law Center, will ban the use of shackling during transportation and in the courtroom, with limited exceptions. AB 878 complements CJCJ’s participation in the state’s Title 15 and 24 revision process, which will amend the standards governing the treatment of youth in county juvenile halls, camps, and ranches. Both regulation revision and legislative reform are required to ensure the safe, trauma-informed, and humane treatment of young people in the care of our juvenile justice system. AB 878 passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on March 28th and is now in awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor before it moves to the Senate.

Senate Bill 180 (Mitchell)

Currently, individuals convicted for a drug offense can receive a three-year enhancement for each prior drug conviction. The result is an enhancement scheme that fuels mass incarceration and fails to address the underlying causes of problematic substance use. Research has shown that sentencing structures that punish individuals more harshly for repeat offenses are ineffective deterrents and fail to prevent future offenses. Moreover, these enhancements, and the long sentences they impose, are profoundly harmful to communities most directly impacted by incarceration and problematic substance use.

Senate Bill 180, or the Repeal Ineffective Sentencing Enhancements (RISE) Act, will eliminate these enhancements, lessening the disproportionate impact of punitive sentencing and reducing state and local spending on incarceration. SB 180 passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 18th and is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 312 (Skinner)

Most youth who have been prosecuted in California’s juvenile justice system can qualify to have their records sealed by the court. Record sealing provides young people with a fresh start and allows them to pursue education, employment, and housing opportunities without the burden of an offense history. CJCJ, committed to raising awareness about juvenile record sealing, created Seal It, which provides county-specific record sealing resources and information for young people. However, some California youth are unable to seal their records depending on their offense. This ineligibility runs counter to the rehabilitative intent of the juvenile justice system and presents a substantial barrier to future opportunity.

maureen washburnmaureSenate Bill 312 seeks to restore record sealing for all justice-involved youth by allowing those with serious offenses to petition the court to have their record sealed. SB 312 passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 25th and is awaiting a hearing in Senate Appropriations.

Maureen Washburn
Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Speak Your Mind

*