BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        SB 261|
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                                   THIRD READING 

          Bill No:  SB 261
          Author:   Hancock (D)
          Amended:  6/1/15  
          Vote:     21  

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE:  5-2, 4/28/15
           AYES:  Hancock, Leno, Liu, McGuire, Monning
           NOES:  Anderson, Stone

           AYES:  Lara, Beall, Hill, Leyva, Mendoza
           NOES:  Nielsen
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Bates

           SUBJECT:   Youth offender parole hearings

          SOURCE:    Anti-Recidivism Coalition 
                     Human Rights Watch
                     National Center for Youth Law

          DIGEST:   This bill expands the youth offender parole process, a  
          parole process for persons sentenced to lengthy prison terms for  
          crimes committed before attaining 18 years of age, to include  
          those who have committed their crimes before attaining the age  
          of 23.


          Existing law:


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          1)Creates the youth offender parole hearing, which is a hearing  
            by the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) for the purpose of  
            reviewing the parole suitability of any prisoner who was under  
            18 years of age at the time of his or her controlling offense.  
             (Penal Code § 3051)

          2)Provides that the timing for the youth offender parole hearing  
            depends on the sentence: if the controlling offense was a  
            determinate sentence the offender shall be eligible for  
            release after 15 years; if the controlling offense was a life  
            term less than 25 years then the person is eligible for  
            release after 20 years; and, if the controlling offense was 25  
            years or more then the person is eligible for release after 25  
            years.  (Penal Code § 3051 (b).)

          3)Provides that if the youth offender is found suitable for  
            parole at the youthful offender parole hearing then the youth  
            offender shall be released on parole. (Penal Code § 3051 (e).)

          4)Provides that in reviewing a prisoner's suitability for parole  
            in a youthful offender parole hearing, the Board shall give  
            great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles as  
            compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any  
            subsequent growth and increased maturity of the prisoner in  
            accordance with relevant case law.  (Penal Code § 4801 (c).)

          This bill:

          1)Expands those eligible for a youthful parole hearing to those  
            whose committing offense occurred before they reached the age  
            of 23. 

          2)Provides that those with indeterminate sentences who are  
            eligible for a youthful offender parole hearing on the  
            effective date of this bill shall have their hearing by July  
            1, 2017.

          3)Provides that those with determinate sentences who are  
            eligible for youthful offender parole hearing on the effective  
            date of this bill shall have their hearing by July 1, 2021,  
            and shall have their consultation with the Board before July  
            1, 2017.


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          On April 15, 2015, the State filed its most recent status report  
          in response to the Three-Judge panel.  The report set forth the  
          status of cases brought under SB 260 (Hancock) which created  
          youthful offender parole hearings:

              The State continues to implement Senate Bill 260 (2013),  
              which allows inmates whose crimes were committed as  
              minors to appear before the Board of Parole Hearings  
              (the Board) to demonstrate their suitability for release  
              after serving at least fifteen years of their sentence.   
              From January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, the Board  
              held 534 youth offender hearings, resulting in 158  
              grants, 328 denials, 46 stipulations to unsuitability,  
              and 2 split votes that required referral to the full  
              Board for further consideration.  An additional 225 were  
              scheduled during this time period, but were waived,  
              postponed, continued, or cancelled.  All available  
              inmates who were immediately eligible for a hearing when  
              the law took effect on January 1, 2014, have had a  
              hearing date or have one scheduled on or before July 1,  
              2015, as required by the terms of Senate Bill 260.  In  
              addition, nearly all youth offenders who received a  
              prior to January 1, 2014, have reached their minimum  
              eligible parole dates and have been processed for  
              release from their life term by the Board." (Defendants'  
              April 2015 Status Report In Response to February 10,  
              2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge Court,  
              Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown).
          This bill expands those eligible for a youthful parole hearing  
          to those whose committing offense occurred before they reached  
          the age of 23.   

          According to the author:

               Science, law, and common sense support the  
               appropriateness of SB 260 youth offender parole  
               hearings for young adults between the age of 18 and  


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               Recent scientific evidence on adolescent and young  
               adult development and neuroscience shows that certain  
               areas of the brain-particularly those affecting  
               judgment and decision-making - do not fully develop  
               until the early - to mid-20s.  Various studies by  
               researchers from Stanford University (2009),  
               University of Alberta (2011), and the National  
               Institute of Mental Health (2011) all confirm that the  
               process of brain development continues well beyond age  

               This research has been relied on by judges and  
               lawmakers.  The US and California Supreme Courts have  
               recognized in several recent opinions that adolescents  
               are still developing in ways relevant to their  
               culpability for criminal behavior and their special  
               capacity to turn their lives around. 

               California already recognizes the uniqueness of young  
               adults in its Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).   
               DJJ is mandated to detain and provide services and  
               programming to some young adults until age 23.  The  
               state has recognized early adulthood as a vulnerable  
               period in other arenas as well, for example, extending  
               foster care support beyond age 18 to age 21 in AB 12  
               (Beall, 2010).  As recently as 2013, the Legislature  
               passed AB 1276 (Bloom), which provided special  
               protections and opportunities for young adults through  
               age 22 entering prison. 

          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   No

          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee:

           Immediately eligible caseload:  Significant one-time costs to  
            the Board of $1.3 million (General Fund) to complete risk  
            assessments and conduct parole hearings for 800 inmates  
            estimated to be eligible upon this bill's effective date.

           Future caseload:  Significant future annual costs, likely in  
            the hundreds of thousands of dollars or greater (General  


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            Fund), to conduct hearings for inmates as they become  
            eligible. The magnitude of costs would be dependent upon the  
            rate at which the Board conducts hearings, as there is no  
            timeframe mandated for prospectively eligible inmates. The  
            CDCR estimates an additional 5,600 inmates would be added to  
            the Board's hearing calendar over the next several years. An  
            additional 3,000 inmates are estimated to be within the  
            Board's hearing cycle currently and would be eligible to  
            request to advance their next hearing date, as specified.

           Regulations:  One-time costs of about $100,000 to review and  
            re-write regulations. 

           Reduced writs:  Potential offset to an unknown degree by state  
            trial court savings as a result of an accompanying reduction  
            in writs of Habeas Corpus, by which inmates challenge  
            convictions and/or sentences. 

           Future incarceration savings:  Potential cost savings of $0.2  
            to $0.5 million (General Fund) for every 20 to 50 inmates  
            released or sentences reduced. Savings would grow as the years  
            they otherwise would have served compound. Over 10 years, the  
            savings could increase to $2 to $5 million assuming the  
            inmates would have served 10 additional years. Minor  
            offsetting increase in parole costs.

          SUPPORT:   (Verified  5/29/15)

          Anti-Recidivism Coalition (co-source)
          Human Rights Watch (co-source)
          National Center for Youth Law (co-source)
          Alliance for Boys and Men of Color
          American Civil Liberties Union of California
          California Catholic Conference
          California Public Defenders Association
          Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
          Drug Policy Alliance
          Everychild Foundation
          Islamic Shura Council of Southern California


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          Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
          Life Support Alliance
          Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership
          National Council on Crime & Delinquency
          Newt Gingrich, former U.S. House Speaker 
          Prison Law Office
          Project Kinship
          Public Counsel
          Puente Project Chabot College
          Revolutionary Releasing
          San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón
          Youth ALIVE!
          Youth Law Center
          Numerous individuals

          OPPOSITION:   (Verified  6/1/15)

          California District Attorneys Association
          California Police Chiefs Association

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:     Former U.S. Speaker of the House of  
          Representatives Newt Gingrich echoes the argument of the author  
          and sponsors that these offenders have a capacity for growth  
          both in his letter in support and in an editorial in the  
          Huffington Post on April 13, 2015.  He states:

               It's only fair to recognize the difference between  
               young- and full-grown adults in sentencing, just as we  
               draw a distinction between juveniles and adults.   
               People who commit offenses before their capacities are  
               fully formed deserve a second chance -- an opportunity  
               for a parole hearing if they mature, rehabilitate, and  
               pay serious restitution to their victims and to the  

               SB 261 is compassionate, fair, and backed up by the  


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               latest scientific understanding of brain development.  
               But it is also by no means lenient.  To be eligible  
               for a hearing, the bill would require that a young  
               person must have served at least 15 years of his or  
               her sentence, and even longer for more serious crimes.  
               This is no small amount of time for young adult -- it  
               means spending a period of potentially more than half  
               their lives at sentencing behind bars.

               If young adults demonstrate real personal growth,  
               rehabilitation, and remorse, they should have the  
               opportunity to be eligible for a parole hearing after  
               spending a very long period of time in prison.  The  
               California legislature should pass SB 261 to give them  
               this opportunity -- and other states across the  
               country should look to it as a model for making the  
               criminal-justice system more fair, as well as more  

          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION:     The California District Attorneys  
          Association opposes this bill stating:

               The California Supreme Court ruled in People v.  
               Caballero (2012) 55 Cal.4th 262, 282 that a juvenile  
               offender sentenced to a de facto term of life  
               imprisonment must be afforded a "meaningful  
               opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated  
               maturity and rehabilitation."  The Court additionally  
               urged the Legislature to "enact legislation  
               establishing a parole eligibility mechanism that  
               provides a defendant serving a de facto life sentence  
               without possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes  
               that he or she committed as a juvenile with the  
               opportunity to obtain release on a showing of  
               rehabilitation and maturity."  

               The key phrase in that opinion is "committed as a  
               juvenile."  All of the major existing case law on  
               juveniles who receive long sentences (Miller v.  
               Alabama, 567 U.S. ____ (2012); Graham v. Florida, 560  
               U.S. ____ (2010); and Caballero itself) involves  


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               individuals who were under 18 at the time of their  
               offense, and received a lengthy prison sentence.  We  
               are unaware of any case law under which courts have  
               considered someone a juvenile for an offense committed  
               after they turned 18, but before they reached 23 years  
               of age.

               We believe that it is wholly inappropriate to expand  
               this expedited parole process to include individuals  
               who were adults when they committed their offenses.   
               This bill isn't aimed at instances where a juvenile  
               offender is charged as an adult - that was taken care  
               of in SB 260.  Instead, these are adults prosecuted in  
               adult court, for very serious offenses that result in  
               lengthy state prison commitments.

          Prepared by:Mary Kennedy / PUB. S. / 
          6/1/15 17:12:04

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