BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  SB 260
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          Date of Hearing:   August 14, 2013

                                  Mike Gatto, Chair

                   SB 260 (Hancock) - As Amended:  August 12, 2013 

          Policy Committee:                             Public  

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:              


          This bill provides that a person committed to the California  
          Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) who was  
          under the age of 18 at the time of the offense shall be  
          considered for parole after serving 15 to 25 years in prison, as  
          specified. Subsequent parole hearings would be set according to  
          current law. This bill states legislative intent to (a) create a  
          process by which the growth and maturity of youthful offenders  
          can be assessed, and (b) establish a meaningful opportunity for  
          release. Specifically, this bill:

          1)Requires the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) to hold a special  
            "youth parole hearing" for every inmate who was under the age  
            of 18 at the time of his or her offense as follows:

             a)   For a determinately-sentenced offender, the hearing  
               shall be held in the 15th year of confinement.  
             b)   For offenders sentenced to 15/20 years-to-life, the  
               hearing shall be held in the 20th year. 
             c)   For offenders sentenced to 25 years-to-life, the hearing  
               shall be held in the 25th year.  

          2)Requires that six years prior to eligibility for parole under  
            this scheme, an inmate shall meet with a BPH representative to  
            review the inmate's file and receive written recommendations  
            regarding parole suitability.

          3)Requires CDCR to review and rewrite regulations regarding  
            youthful offender parole suitability consistent with relevant  
            case law requiring a meaningful opportunity for release.


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          4)Does not apply to persons sentenced under three strikes or  
            persons sentenced to life-without-possibility-of-parole  

          5)Provides if parole is not granted under these provisions, the  
            board shall set a time for a subsequent hearing pursuant to  
            current law, using its statutory discretion to advance the  
            hearing, giving "great weight to the diminished culpability of  
            juveniles" pursuant to case law.

          6)Requires BPH to complete all hearings required for offenders  
            who become eligible for hearings on the effective date of this  
            legislation, by July 1, 2015.
            FISCAL EFFECT
          1)Significant one-time GF costs to the Board of Prison Hearings  
            (BPH), likely in excess of $2 million by July 1, 2015, to hold  
            additional parole hearings. As this bill requires BPH to hold  
            a hearing by July 1, 2015 for every determinately-sentenced  
            offender who has served more than 15 years for an offense  
            committed before the offender turned 18, and for  
            indeterminately-sentenced inmates who have served 15, 20 or 25  
            years, as specified, the cost of an additional 1,000 hearings  
            would be in the range of $2.5 million, assuming a BPH estimate  
            of $2,500 per hearing.  
            Annual hearing costs thereafter would likely be in the  
            hundreds of thousands of dollars.    

           2)One time GF costs in the range of $150,000 to review and  
            re-write regulations, pursuant to specified litigation.      

          3)The above costs would be offset to an unknown degree by state  
            trial court GF savings as a result of an accompanying  
            reduction in writs of Habeas Corpus, by which inmates  
            challenge  convictions and/or sentences.  

          4)Potentially significant annual out-year GF savings to the  
            extent inmates are actually paroled earlier following the  
            required hearings. For example, for every 10 inmates per year  
            who are actually paroled as a result of this bill and end up  
            serving 20 rather than 30 years, the annual net savings will  
            exceed $1.5 million in 10 years (assuming a marginal per  
            capita savings of $25,000 per inmate, and a per capita parole  


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            cost of $10,000).    

          There are about 5,700 inmates serving time in CDCR facilities  
          who were sentenced when they were under the age of 18. Of these:

                 1,469 will have served at least 15 years by January 1,  
                 729 will have served at least 20 years by January 1,  
                 335 will have served at least 25 years by January 1,  
                 70 are 2nd Strikers
                 2 are 3rd Strikers
                 286 are serving LWOP 

           1)Rationale . Current law allows an inmate who was under 18 at  
            the time of an offense that resulted in a term of  
            life-without-the-possibility-of parole (LWOP) (first-degree  
            murder) to petition the court for resentencing after 15 years.  
            This bill addresses the situation, the subject of People v  
            Caballero, in which a youth is sentenced to  
            life-with-the-possibility of parole, which may serve as a de  
            facto life sentence. 

            According to the author, "Existing sentencing laws do not  
            distinguish youth from adults, however, recent court decisions  
            are moving in this direction. The US Supreme Court recently  
            held unconstitutional mandatory life without parole sentences  
            for people under the age of 18, and required courts to  
            consider the youthfulness of defendants facing that sentence  
            (Miller v. Alabama (2012).  The California Supreme Court  
            recently ruled in People v. Caballero (2012) that a sentence  
            exceeding the life expectancy of a juvenile is the equivalent  
            of life without parole, and unconstitutional in nonhomicide  
            cases.  Specifically, the California Supreme Court called for  
            legislative action to establish a review process for cases  
            with lengthy sentences. 

            "Recent scientific evidence on adolescent development and  
            neuroscience show that certain areas of the brain,  
            particularly those that affect judgment and decision-making,  
            do not fully develop until the early 20's.  The US Supreme  
            Court stated in its 2005 Roper v. Simmons decision, '[t]he  


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            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.'  Moreover, the fact that young adults are  
            still developing means that they are uniquely situated for  
            personal growth and rehabilitation."

           2)Recent Case Law  . (See Assembly Public Safety Committee  
            analysis for a full review.) In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court  
            ruled it unconstitutional to sentence a youth who did not  
            commit homicide to a sentence of life without the possibility  
            of parole (Graham v. Florida). The Court discussed the  
            differences between juvenile and adult offenders and  
            reasserted its findings from Roper v. Simmons (2005) that  
            juveniles have lessened culpability than adults due to those  
            differences. The Court stated that "life without parole is an  
            especially harsh punishment for a juvenile," noting that a  
            juvenile offender "will on average serve more years and a  
            greater percentage of his life in prison than an adult  

            The court stressed, however, that "while the Eighth Amendment  
            forbids a State from imposing a life without parole sentence  
            on a juvenile nonhomicide offender, it does not require the  
            State to release that offender during his natural life.  Those  
            who commit truly horrifying crimes as juveniles may turn out  
            to be irredeemable, and thus deserving of incarceration for  
            the duration of their lives."

            In Caballero, the California Supreme Court ruled that  
            sentencing a juvenile offender for a non-homicide offense to a  
            term with a parole eligibility date that falls outside the  
            offender's life expectancy constitutes cruel and unusual  
            punishment. Relying on the reasoning in Graham, the Court  
            found that while the juvenile did not receive LWOP, the trial  
            court's sentence effectively deprives the defendant of any  
            "realistic opportunity to obtain release" from prison,  
            resulting in de facto LWOP and thus violating the Eighth  

            The court stated that defendants unconstitutionally sentenced  
            to LWOP, or de facto LWOP, may file a petition for a writ of  
            habeas corpus to allow the court to determine the appropriate  
            length of imprisonment.  


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            This bill creates a statutory parole process by which youthful  
            offenders are assured of parole review pursuant to recent  
            court decisions.   

           3)Related Legislation/Alternative Approach.  AB 1276 (Bloom)  
            posed a different approach to the Caballero de facto life term  
            issue. AB 1276, sponsored by the L.A. D.A.'s  Office, provides  
            that a person who was convicted of a non-homicide offense  
            committed before the age of 18 years is eligible for parole  
            after serving 20 years in prison. Subsequent parole hearings  
            would be set according to current law.

            AB 1276 has stalled in Senate Public Safety in favor of SB  
            260, though the L.A. D.A.'s Office opposes SB 260, and  
            expresses concerns with the 15-year hearing provisions now in  
            SB 260 for determinately-sentenced offenders, which moves SB  
            260 further from AB 1276 and the de facto life term case law  
            that was the impetus for both bills. The L.A. D.A.'s Office  
            contends determinately-sentenced offenders should serve at  
            least 20 years before parole consideration, and  
            indeterminately-sentences offenders at least 25 years, unless  
            they have a lower minimum parole consideration date. (The CA  
            District Attorneys' Association opposes both proposals.)

           4)SB 9 (Yee), Statutes of 2012  addressed the 2010 Graham ruling  
            that youthful offenders could not be sentenced to  
            life-without-the-possibility-of-parole (LWOP) by statutorily  
            authorizing an inmate who was under 18 years of age at the  
            time of committing an offense for which the prisoner was  
            sentenced to LWOP to submit a petition for recall and  
            resentencing to the sentencing court after serving 15 years of  
            that sentence.

           5)Support  includes a lengthy list of organizations, including  
            Human Rights Watch, the Youth Justice Coalition, the ACLU, CA  
            Attorneys for Criminal Justice, CA Public Defenders  
            Association, CA Teachers Association, Youth Law Center, L.A.  
            Sheriff's Office,  and the Prison Law Office.

            According to the Friends Committee on Legislation of  
            California, "Federal law and recent course cases increasingly  
            recognize that minors are physically and psychologically  
            different than adults. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the U.S.  
            Supreme Court recognized a large body of scientific and  
            sociological research pointing to the diminished culpability  


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            of youth as well as their capacity for rehabilitation.  For  
            the most part, California law still fails to distinguish these  
            very real differences.  People who cannot vote, serve on  
            juries, or legally purchase alcohol or tobacco are  
            nevertheless considered as culpable as adults when convicted  
            of certain crimes.

          "While society wants young people who commit crimes to be  
            punished, rehabilitation, redemption and the belief in second  
            chances reflect our nation's core values.  SB 260 will require  
            the Board of Parole Hearings to consider objective criteria  
            consistent with the California Supreme Court's ruling in  
            People v. Caballero and the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v.  
            Alabama and Graham v. Florida in determining whether to grant  
            parole.  Youth will be held accountable while creating  
            incentives for their rehabilitation."

           6)Opposition  . The California District Attorney's Office (CDAA)  
            states, "We have many concerns with this bill, and paramount  
            among them is the fact that this bill will potentially result  
            in the early release of many serious offenders. . . .  This  
            represents a severe risk to public safety and is insulting to  
            victims who were promised justice through meaningful  

          "For reference, CDAA is opposed to this bill for many of the  
            same reasons that it opposed SB 9 last year and its  
            predecessors in prior years.  There are many safeguards and  
            opportunities to argue for lesser sentences, appeal  
            convictions, and seek executive clemency.  SB 260 gives  
            serious offenders yet another chance to avoid deserved  

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081