California now gives all people incarcerated as youth an opportunity for parole! Senate Bill 394, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed yesterday, makes California the 20th state in the country to eliminate life-without-parole sentences for children.
Many of you may remember SB 9
, which made California an early leader in youth sentencing reform by allowing a judge to revisit life-without-parole sentences for most youth. At the time, just five states banned life without parole for youth 17 and younger.
This year, the California Supreme Court found that Miller v. Alabama required more protections than SB 9 provided. SB 394 now ensures that anyone serving JLWOP has parole review.
California joins Arkansas, North Dakota, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia in banning life without parole for children in 2017, the most states yet to pass legislation banning this sentence in one single year. The momentum continues to grow, as courts, policymakers, and opinion leaders respond to recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, adolescent development research, as well as our leadership and that of many of our state partners.