Under current laws and procedures, there isn’t much in the way of sympathy for juvenile defendants convicted of violent crimes—in most cases they are treated and tried as adults and the sentences that come down on them do not take their age into consideration. State Sen. Leland Yee has opposed the blanket practice of treating juvenile offenders the same as adults, and originally proposed a bill that would have barred life imprisonment for all juveniles. Recognizing that his proposal was politically untenable, Sen. Yee is trying again with SB399, a bill that would allow juvenile offenders to ask a court to review their case after 10 years in prison that could lead to dramatically reduced sentences. It could potentially lead to dozens of prisoners, who were juveniles when they committed their crimes, to get out of jail in their adult years. Sen. Yee argues that kids convicted at such young ages deserve second chances while opponents say the system is working fine the way it is. Should juvenile offenders be treated differently?
Leland Yee, Assistant President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, D-District 8, which includes San Francisco, San Mateo; principal author of SB399
Adam Keigwin, Chief of Staff to Senator Leland Yee
Michael Rushford, President of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation