BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                            Senator Loni Hancock, Chair              A
                             2013-2014 Regular Session               B

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          AB 1276 (Bloom)                                            6
          As Amended May 13, 2014 
          Hearing date:  June 10, 2014
          Penal Code
          AA:mc

                                  YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS:

                                       PRISON 


                                       HISTORY

          Source:  Human Rights Watch; Los Angeles District Attorney's  
                   Office; Anti-Recidivism Coalition

          Prior Legislation: None

          Support: Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs; California  
                   Attorneys for Criminal Justice; California Communities  
                   United Institute; Children's Defense Fund of  
                   California; Los Angeles Police Protective League; Los  
                   Angeles Probation Officers Union; Riverside Sheriffs'  
                   Association; numerous individuals

          Opposition:None known on current version

          Assembly Floor Vote:  N/A


                                         KEY ISSUE
           
          SHOULD SPECIAL CLASSIFICATION CONSIDERATION BE GIVEN FOR YOUTH  
          OFFENDERS AT CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AND REHABILITATION  
          (CDCR), WHO ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 22?


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                                       PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to require the Department of  
          Corrections and Rehabilitation to conduct a youth offender  
          Institution Classification Committee review at reception to  
          provide special classification consideration for every youth  
          offender under 22 years of age, as specified.

           Current law  generally provides a statutory framework for  
          remanding certain cases involving minors who are 14 years of age  
          and older and alleged to have committed a crime from the  
          juvenile court to adult criminal court.  (Welfare and  
          Institutions Code ('WIC")  602 & 707.)  
           
          Current law provides that no person under the age of 14 years  
          shall be committed to a state prison or be transferred thereto  
          from any other institution.  (Welfare and Institutions Code  
          ("WIC")  211 (a).)

           Current law  further provides that notwithstanding any other  
          provision of law, no person under the age of 16 years shall be  
          housed in any facility under the jurisdiction of the Department  
          of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR").  (WIC  211(b).)

           This bill  would require CDCR to conduct a youth offender  
          Institution Classification Committee ("ICC") review at reception  
          to provide special classification consideration for every youth  
          offender.   This bill  would define "youth offenders" to be  
          individuals committed to CDCR who are under 22 years of age. 

          Youth Offender ICC Composition 
          
           This bill  would require that the youth offender ICC consist of  
          the staff required by department regulations at any ICC, however  
          at least one member shall be a department staff member specially  


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          trained in conducting the reviews.  This bill would require that  
          training include, but not be limited to, adolescent and young  
          adult development and evidence-based interviewing processes  
          employing positive and motivational techniques.

          Purpose of Youth Offender ICC Review
          
           This bill  would provide that the purpose of the youth offender  
          ICC review is to "meet with the youth offender and assess the  
          readiness of a youth offender for a lower security level or  
          placement permitting increased access to programs and to  
          encourage the youth offender to commit to positive change and  
          self-improvement.  A youth offender shall not be classified at  
          the security level corresponding with his or her placement score  
          if his or her in-custody behavior indicates he or she can be  
          safely placed at a lower security level."

          Youthful Offender Placement Classification
          
           This bill  would require that a youthful offender "be classified  
          for placement at a lower security level facility than  
          corresponds with his or her placement score or in a placement  
          that permits increased access to programs based on consideration  
          of all of the following factors:

          (1) Recent in-custody behavior while housed in juvenile or adult  
          facilities.
          (2) Demonstrated efforts of progress toward self-improvement in  
          juvenile or adult facilities.
          (3) Family or community ties supportive of rehabilitation.
          (4) Evidence of commitment to working towards self-improvement  
          with a goal of being a law-abiding member of society upon  
          release."
           
          This bill  would require CDCR to "transfer a youth offender to a  
          lower security level facility if the department determines,  
          based on the totality of the circumstances, that the youth  
          offender would not increase the safety risk of the lower  
          security level facility."

           This bill  would require that if CDCR "determines a youth  


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          offender is ready for a housing placement permitting increased  
          access to programs, the youth offender shall be transferred to  
          that housing.  If the youth offender demonstrates he or she is a  
          safety risk to inmates, staff, or the public, and does not  
          otherwise demonstrate a commitment to rehabilitation, the youth  
          offender shall be reclassified and placed at a security level  
          that is consistent with department regulations and procedures.

           This bill  would provide that a youth offender who at his or her  
          initial Youth Offender ICC review "is denied a lower security  
          level than corresponds with his or her placement score or did  
          not qualify for placement permitting increased access to  
          programs due to previous incarceration history and was placed in  
          the highest security level shall nevertheless be eligible to  
          have his or her placement reconsidered (as specified) at his or  
          her annual review until reaching 25 years of age."

           This bill  would require that if "at an annual review it is  
          determined that the youth offender has had no serious rule  
          violations for one year, the department shall consider whether  
          the youth would benefit from placement in a lower level facility  
          or placement permitting increased access to programs."

           This bill  would require CDCR to "review and, as necessary,  
          revise existing regulations and adopt new regulations regarding  
          classification determinations made pursuant to this section, and  
          provide for training for staff."

           This bill  makes legislative findings and declarations concerning  
          youthful offenders, as specified.

                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION

          For the last several years, severe overcrowding in California's  
          prisons has been the focus of evolving and expensive litigation  
          relating to conditions of confinement.  On May 23, 2011, the  
          United States Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its  
          prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity within two  
          years from the date of its ruling, subject to the right of the  
          state to seek modifications in appropriate circumstances.   



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          Beginning in early 2007, Senate leadership initiated a policy to  
          hold legislative proposals which could further aggravate the  
          prison overcrowding crisis through new or expanded felony  
          prosecutions.  Under the resulting policy, known as "ROCA"  
          (which stands for "Receivership/ Overcrowding Crisis  
          Aggravation"), the Committee held measures that created a new  
          felony, expanded the scope or penalty of an existing felony, or  
          otherwise increased the application of a felony in a manner  
          which could exacerbate the prison overcrowding crisis.  Under  
          these principles, ROCA was applied as a content-neutral,  
          provisional measure necessary to ensure that the Legislature did  
          not erode progress towards reducing prison overcrowding by  
          passing legislation, which would increase the prison population.  
            

          In January of 2013, just over a year after the enactment of the  
          historic Public Safety Realignment Act of 2011, the State of  
          California filed court documents seeking to vacate or modify the  
          federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison  
          population to 137.5 percent of design capacity.  The State  
          submitted that the, ". . .  population in the State's 33 prisons  
          has been reduced by over 24,000 inmates since October 2011 when  
          public safety realignment went into effect, by more than 36,000  
          inmates compared to the 2008 population . . . , and by nearly  
          42,000 inmates since 2006 . . . ."  Plaintiffs opposed the  
          state's motion, arguing that, "California prisons, which  
          currently average 150% of capacity, and reach as high as 185% of  
          capacity at one prison, continue to deliver health care that is  
          constitutionally deficient."  In an order dated January 29,  
          2013, the federal court granted the state a six-month extension  
          to achieve the 137.5 % inmate population cap by December 31,  
          2013.  

          The Three-Judge Court then ordered, on April 11, 2013, the state  
          of California to "immediately take all steps necessary to comply  
          with this Court's . . . Order . . . requiring defendants to  
          reduce overall prison population to 137.5% design capacity by  
          December 31, 2013."  On September 16, 2013, the State asked the  
          Court to extend that deadline to December 31, 2016.  In  
          response, the Court extended the deadline first to January 27,  
          2014 and then February 24, 2014, and ordered the parties to  


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          enter into a meet-and-confer process to "explore how defendants  
          can comply with this Court's June 20, 2013 Order, including  
          means and dates by which such compliance can be expedited or  
          accomplished and how this Court can ensure a durable solution to  
          the prison crowding problem."

          The parties were not able to reach an agreement during the  
          meet-and-confer process.  As a result, the Court ordered  
          briefing on the State's requested extension and, on February 10,  
          2014, issued an order extending the deadline to reduce the  
          in-state adult institution population to 137.5% design capacity  
          to February 28, 2016.  The order requires the state to meet the  
          following interim and final population reduction benchmarks:

                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and
                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          If a benchmark is missed the Compliance Officer (a position  
          created by the February 10, 2016 order) can order the release of  
          inmates to bring the State into compliance with that benchmark.   


          In a status report to the Court dated May 15, 2014, the state  
          reported that as of May 14, 2014, 116,428 inmates were housed in  
          the State's 34 adult institutions, which amounts to 140.8% of  
          design bed capacity, and 8,650 inmates were housed in  
          out-of-state facilities.   

          The ongoing prison overcrowding litigation indicates that prison  
          capacity and related issues concerning conditions of confinement  
          remain unresolved.  While real gains in reducing the prison  
          population have been made, even greater reductions may be  
          required to meet the orders of the federal court.  Therefore,  
          the Committee's consideration of ROCA bills -bills that may  
          impact the prison population - will be informed by the following  
          questions:

                 Whether a measure erodes realignment and impacts the  
               prison population;
                 Whether a measure addresses a crime which is directly  


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               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
                 Whether a bill corrects a constitutional infirmity or  
               legislative drafting error; 
                 Whether a measure proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy; and,
                 Whether a bill addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy.

                                      COMMENTS

          1.  Stated Need for This Bill

           The author states:

               In California, younger people between the ages of 18  
               and 22 entering the adult prison system are more  
               likely than older prisoners to be sent directly to the  
               highest security prison yards with the most dangerous  
               inmates and the least amount of programming.  The  
               result is a lost opportunity for the state to reduce  
               recidivism. 

               Research shows that incarcerated youth are especially  
               vulnerable to physical and sexual assault and  
               psychological harm including depression and suicide.   
               At this age, youth are still maturing and are highly  
               sensitive to both positive and negative influences.   
               Their environment has a huge impact on their  
               development and life choices.  If youth entering the  
               adult prison system are placed in the most dangerous  
               environments, odds are that they will not choose a  
               lifestyle that leads them away from bad choices and  
               instead sets them back on a path to reoffend or remain  
               in prison longer.  However, studies also show that  
               positive influences have just as much of an impact on  
               this age group - the availability of education and  
               vocational training in prison, particularly for youth,  
               can significantly reduce recidivism and set an  


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               incarcerated youth on a better path.

               AB 1276 establishes a process that directs CDCR to  
               utilize the already existing Youth Offender  
               Institutional Classification Committee, which assesses  
               youth for placement at their adult facility, to place  
               a youth between the ages of 18-22 whenever possible at  
               a lower custody level with the most programming  
               available.  This will also afford an opportunity for  
               the Committee to encourage youth to commit to positive  
               change and self-improvement.  AB 1276 will take  
               prison's most vulnerable and malleable population and  
               give those youth a better opportunity of choosing a  
               path that leads to success outside of prison if they  
               are released. 
           
           2.  CDCR Classification; What This Bill Would Do

           Generally, all CDCR inmates are assessed a classification  
          "score" when they first arrive at prison.  As explained in  
          informational material made available online by the Prison Law  
          Office, "points are added based on the prisoner's background,  
          sentence length and any prior misbehavior in jail or prison.  A  
          higher classification score generally means that the prisoner  
          will be placed in a facility that has higher security.  However,  
          the CDCR also takes into account special case factors,  
          administrative determinants, and mental health or disability  
          needs; such factors are documented on the prisoner's  
          classification score sheet by letter codes.  A prisoner's  
          classification should be updated at least once a year."

          This bill would require CDCR to establish a special  
          classification approach for inmates under the age of 22.  The  
          classification review would be conducted by the same committee  
          that reviews older inmates, but at least one member of the ICC  
          would be required to be specially trained in areas like  
          adolescent and young adult development, and evidence-based  
          interviewing processes employing positive and motivational  
          techniques.  The bill also would require the review assess the  
          readiness of a youth offender for a lower security level or  
          placement permitting increased access to programs and to  


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          encourage the youth offender to commit to positive change and  
          self-improvement.  The bill would require that a youthful  
          offender be classified for placement at a lower security level  
          facility than corresponds with his or her placement score or in  
          a placement that permits increased access to programs based on  
          consideration of certain factors, noted above.  The bill also  
          provides for transfers to lower level security based on improved  
          safety risks, and provides for ongoing reviews of these  
          placements, as specified.  This bill broadly reflects an  
          approach that has been piloted by CDCR informally at the  
          California Institute for Men.

          SHOULD INMATES UNDER THE AGE OF 22 BE CLASSIFIED FOR PLACEMENT  
          IN PRISON BY AN ICC THAT INCLUDES A MEMBER WITH SPECIALIZED  
          TRAINING REGARDING YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS?

          SHOULD THE PLACEMENT OF INMATES UNDER THE AGE OF 22 REFLECT  
          ASSESSMENTS AND FACTORS UNIQUE FROM THOSE APPLIED TO OLDER  
          INMATES, AS PROPOSED BY THIS BILL?

          3.  Background:  The Nature of Juvenile Offenders and Criminal  
          Punishment  

          The growing body of scientific research describing the  
          differences between adult and juvenile offenders has informed a  
          number of state and federal court cases over the last several  
          years concerning youthful offenders.  In 2010, the United States  
          Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to sentence a  
          youth who did not commit homicide to a sentence of life without  
          the possibility of parole (LWOP).  (  Graham v. Florida  (2010) 130  
          S.Ct.  2011.)  The Court discussed the fundamental differences  
          between juvenile and adult offenders, and reasserted its earlier  
          findings from  Roper v. Simmons  (2005) 543 U.S. 551(prohibiting  
          the death penalty for defendants who committed their crimes  
          before the age of 18), that juveniles have lessened culpability  
          than adults due to those differences.  

          In the 2005  Roper  decision, Justice Kennedy, joined by Justices  
          Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, explained in part:




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               . . .  The susceptibility of juveniles to immature and  
               irresponsible behavior means "their irresponsible  
               conduct is not as morally reprehensible as that of an  
               adult." . . .  Their own vulnerability and comparative  
               lack of control over their immediate surroundings mean  
               juveniles have a greater claim than adults to be  
               forgiven for failing to escape negative influences in  
               their whole environment. . . .  The reality that  
               juveniles still struggle to define their identity means  
               it is less supportable to conclude that even a heinous  
               crime committed by a juvenile is evidence of  
               irretrievably depraved character.  From a moral  
               standpoint it would be misguided to equate the failings  
               of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater  
               possibility exists that a minor's character  
               deficiencies will be reformed.  Indeed, "[t]he  
               relevance of youth as a mitigating factor derives from  
               the fact that the signature qualities of youth are  
               transient; as individuals mature, the impetuousness and  
               recklessness that may dominate in younger years can  
               subside." . . .  (citation); see also Steinberg & Scott  
               1014 ("For most teens, [risky or antisocial] behaviors  
               are fleeting; they cease with maturity as individual  
               identity becomes settled.  Only a relatively small  
               proportion of adolescents who experiment in risky or  
               illegal activities develop entrenched patterns of  
               problem behavior that persist into adulthood").   Roper  
               v. Simmons  , 543 U.S. 551, 569-570 [some citations  
               omitted].) 

          More recently, the Court reaffirmed these views.  Justice  
          Kennedy, joined by Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer and  
          Sotomayor, noted in 2010:  

               No recent data provide reason to reconsider the  
               Court's observations in  Roper  about the nature of  
               juveniles.  As petitioner's amici point out,  
               developments in psychology and brain science continue  
               to show fundamental differences between juvenile and  
               adult minds.  For example, parts of the brain involved  
               in behavior control continue to mature through late  
               adolescence.  See Brief for American Medical  

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               Association et al. as 16-24; Brief for American  
               Psychological Association et al. as 22-27.  Juveniles  
               are more capable of change than are adults, and their  
               actions are less likely to be evidence of  
               "irretrievably depraved character" than are the  
               actions of adults.  . . .  It remains true that  
               "[f]rom a moral standpoint it would be misguided to  
               equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult,  
               for a greater possibility exists that a minor's  
               character deficiencies will be reformed." . . .   
               (  Graham v. Florida  (2010) 560 U.S. 48, 68 [some  
               citations omitted].)

          The uncodified legislative findings and declarations of this  
          bill restate similar quotations from decisional law, citing  
           Miller v. Alabama  (2012) 132 S. Ct. 2455, where the Court stated  
          in part:

               First, children have a " 'lack of maturity and an  
               underdeveloped sense of responsibility,' " leading to  
               recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking. .  
               . .  Second, children "are more vulnerable . . . to  
                                                                                    negative influences and outside pressures," including  
               from their family and peers; they have limited  
               "contro[l] over their own environment" and lack the  
               ability to extricate themselves from horrific,  
               crime-producing settings. . . .  And third, a child's  
               character is not as "well formed" as an adult's; his  
               traits are "less fixed" and his actions less likely to  
               be "evidence of irretrievabl[e] deprav[ity]." . . .  

               Our decisions rested not only on common sense--on what  
               "any parent knows"--but on science and social science  
               as well. . . .  In Roper, we cited studies showing  
               that " '[o]nly a relatively small proportion of  
               adolescents' " who engage in illegal activity "  
               'develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior.' . .  
               .  And in Graham, we noted that "developments in  
               psychology and brain science continue to show  
               fundamental differences between juvenile and adult  
               minds"--for example, in "parts of the brain involved  
               in behavior control." . . .  We reasoned that those  








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               findings--of transient rashness, proclivity for risk,  
               and inability to assess consequences -- both lessened  
               a child's "moral culpability" and enhanced the  
               prospect that, as the years go by and neurological  
               development occurs, his " 'deficiencies will be  
               reformed.' . . .  (Miller, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2464-5  
               (citations omitted).)
            
          The bill's findings conclude in part that "(a)menable young  
          adults incarcerated in state prisons should have access to  
          programs and living circumstances that increase the likelihood  
          of rehabilitation during these important developmental stages. .  
          . .  The purpose of this act is to establish a mechanism by  
          which the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will make  
          individual assessments of people entering prison under 22 years  
          of age and classify these individuals at lower custody level  
          facilities whenever possible."

          IS THIS BILL CONSISTENT WITH THE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND  
          DECISIONAL LAW ADDRESSING THE "FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN  
          JUVENILE AND ADULT MINDS"?

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