Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB 9) Sunday that will give juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison without parole a chance at freedom — if they meet certain conditions.
California has 300 inmates who could be affected by the change.
Under the new law, people who were convicted of murder or other serious crimes as juveniles can petition a judge for reconsideration of their sentences. They can only do that after they’ve served 15 years. An inmate must show remorse and be enrolled in rehabilitative programs.
If an inmate meets the criteria, a judge could decide to shorten his or her sentence to 25 years to life with a chance for parole. The inmate would then go through the same vetting process that all offenders undergo when they’re up for parole.
“SB 9 is not a get-out-of-jail-free card," insists the bill's author, state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), but he claims that it recognizes what the research shows: "that children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults,” and should be given a second chance.
In recent weeks, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-SF), the House of Representatives' minority leader, and Newt Gingrich. former Republican speaker of the house, both urged Gov. Brown to sign the bill.
The United States is the only country that sentences juveniles to life without parole.