SACRAMENTO, CA – The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) applauds California Governor Jerry Brown for signing SB 261: Parole Review for Young Adults with Lengthy or Life Sentences on October 3, 2015, significantly strengthening California’s criminal justice system. Authored by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), SB 261 passed the Senate and Assembly with strong bi-partison support.
ARC sponsored SB 261 with Human Rights Watch (HRW). Co-sponsors included National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) and Youth Justice Coalition (YJC). Several statewide criminal justice reform advocates provided fundamental support. SB 261 also received backing from prominent Republicans, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Founder of Serving California B. Wayne Hughes, Jr.
SB 261 extends eligibility for a youth offender parole hearing to certain inmates who were under the age of 23 at the time of their crime, and sentenced to a lengthy or life sentence. This bill builds on SB 260, also authored by Senator Hancock and passed in 2013, which offered youth offender parole hearings to inmates who were under 18 at the time of their crime and sentenced to state prison. ARC and HRW co-sponsored SB 260.
“If a young person demonstrates personal growth and rehabilitation, and shows remorse for their crime, they deserve a second chance,” says ARC Founder and President Scott Budnick. “This new law holds young people accountable for the mistakes they have made, but also offers them compassion and the opportunity to begin contributing positively to their communities.”
SB 261 has the potential to dramatically change the lives of an estimated 14,000 inmates across California, offering them a parole hearing that considers their age at the time of their crime, and acknowledges their unique capacity to mature and change.
“Since I was 13 years old, I’ve lived with the understanding that my older brother, the closest thing I’ve ever had to a father, was going to die in prison,” says ARC Member Raul Barreto. “My brother was 19 when he was sentenced to 170 years to life in prison. I am now 28 and he is 35, both of us two completely different people than the boys we were when he was sentenced. This bill gives my family hope and has answered our prayers.”
Read the full text of SB 261 here.
For more information or to learn how to get involved, please contact Caitlin Ahearn, Associate Director of Development and Communications at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, at [email protected] or (213) 955-5885.
Founded in 2013, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) advocates for fair and just policies in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and provides services, support and opportunities to those currently within the system and those coming home from incarceration. Together, we serve as a bridge to transformation, purpose and redemption.