Juveniles sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole could get a second chance under legislation approved by the State Senate.
Sen. Leland Yee’s bill would let courts review juveniles sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (JLWOP) after serving between 10 to 25 years in prison if the offender meets certain criteria. It passed 21-16 in June..
Senate Bill (SB9) would allow judges to reduce sentences to 25 years-to-life for offenders who show remorse and are working to be rehabilitated.
SB9 recognizes that all young people, even those serving life without parole have the capacity to change for the better, and should have access to the rehabilitative tools to do so. The bill recognizes that teenagers are still maturing, and under this act, youth sentenced to JLWOP could petition a court to review. It now goes to the Assembly, where a similar bill died last year.
Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, says about 275 California inmates are serving life without the possibility of parole terms for crimes committed before they were 18. He says the United States is the only nation that lets children be sentenced to life without parole.
Over 2,500 prisoners are currently serving juvenile life without parole in America. According to the Huffington Post, they were convicted at age 15, 16, 17, and 18—and they will die in prison regardless of how well they live their lives while incarcerated. Many of these young prisoners have already served 10, 15, 20 years, and are now mature adults.