Yet another decision US Supreme Court has reiterated that youth are different from adults and our laws must reflect this fact. On 6/25/12 the court held unconstitutional state statutes with mandatory sentencing schemes.
This is a major step forward in ending life without parole for juveniles, but it does not go far enough. The court focused on the mandatory nature of the state law in the two cases before it, and its ruling strikes down statutes in 29 states that provide for mandatory life-without-parole sentences for youth. However, the Supreme Court did not address California’s law, which is neither mandatory nor completely discretionary.
California’s practice of sentencing teens to life in prison without parole will go on unless we change our laws. As many of you have participated in our California campaign to end juvenile life without parole, you know we have been working to pass SB 9, a modest bill that would give youth a second chance. We expect it to be voted on this summer. Please contact your representatives and tell them you want the legislature to pass SB 9.