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California's "Second Chance" Bill Offers Hope to Imprisoned Youth


California's Senate Bill (SB) 9 offers hope to those inmates in California currently serving life without parole sentences for crimes committed while still a juvenile. SB 9 provides inmates serving sentences of life without parole for crimes committed before their eighteenth birthday with an option of submitting a petition for consideration of a new sentence after they have served 15 years of their prison term. If the petition is approved, the inmate's life without parole sentence may be reduced to 25 years to life, which includes a possibility of parole. The bill is supported by organizations for youth advocacy such as Human Rights Watch and NCYLNational.

The Senate passed the bill in June in a 21-16 vote and the Assembly Public Safety Committee approved SB 9 in a 5-2 vote earlier this month. SB 9 will next go to the Assembly Appropriation Committee and then be put to a vote on the floor of the Assembly. The bill is expected to come to a vote after the Assembly's summer recess.

Scott Hughes is a criminal defense lawyer in Newport Beach, California practicing in State and Federal Court.

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