BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                     SB 261

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          261 (Hancock)

          As Amended  June 1, 2015

          Majority vote

          SENATE VOTE:  21-15

          |Committee       |Votes|Ayes                  |Noes                |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |Public Safety   |5-2  |Quirk, Jones-Sawyer,  |Melendez, Lackey    |
          |                |     |Lopez, Low, Santiago  |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |Appropriations  |12-5 |Gomez, Bloom, Bonta,  |Bigelow, Chang,     |
          |                |     |Calderon, Nazarian,   |Gallagher, Jones,   |
          |                |     |Eggman, Eduardo       |Wagner              |
          |                |     |Garcia, Holden,       |                    |
          |                |     |Quirk, Rendon, Weber, |                    |
          |                |     |Wood                  |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |

          SUMMARY:  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  


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          have committed their crimes before attaining the age of 23.   
          Specifically, this bill:  

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

          2)States that those with determinate sentences who are eligible  
            for a youth 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 of Parole (BPH) before  
            July 1, 2017.

          EXISTING LAW: 

          1)Establishes a youth offender parole hearing which is a hearing  
            by BPH 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.  

          2)Provides the following parole mechanism for a person who was  
            convicted of a controlling offense that was committed before  
            the person had attained 18 years of age:

             a)   If the controlling offense was a determinate sentence  
               the offender shall be eligible for release after 15 years;
             b)   If the controlling offense was a life term less than 25  
               years then the person is eligible for release after 20  
               years; and,

             c)   If the controlling offense was a life term of 25 years  
               to life then the person is eligible for release after 25  


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          3)Sets a deadline of July 1, 2015, for BPH to complete all youth  
            offender parole hearings for individuals who become entitled  
            to have their parole suitability considered at a youth  
            offender parole hearing on the effective date of the statute  
            that established youth offender parole hearings.  
          4)Provides that in reviewing a prisoner's suitability for parole  
            in a youthful offender parole hearing, the BPH 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. 

          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Assembly Appropriations  

          1)Significant one-time costs to the BPH 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.

          2)Significant ongoing annual costs, likely in the hundreds of  
            thousands of dollars or greater (General Fund), to conduct  
            hearings for inmates as they become eligible.  The magnitude  
            of costs would be dependent upon the rate at which BPH  
            conducts hearings, as there is no timeframe mandated for  
            prospectively eligible inmates.  The California Department of  
            Corrections and Rehabilitation estimates an additional 5,600  
            inmates would be added to the BPH's hearing calendar over the  
            next several years.  An additional 3,000 inmates are estimated  
            to be within the BPH's hearing cycle currently and would be  
            eligible to request to advance their next hearing date, as  


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          3)One-time costs to BPH of about $100,000 to review and re-write  

          4)Unknown state trial court savings as a result of an  
            accompanying reduction in writs of Habeas Corpus, by which  
            inmates challenge convictions and/or sentences. 

          5)Potential incarceration cost savings of $0.2 to $0.5 million  
            (General Fund) for every 20 to 50 inmates either released or  
            having their sentences reduced. Over 10 years, the savings  
            could increase to $2 to $5 million assuming the inmates would  
            have served ten additional years.

          6)Minor offsetting increase in parole costs.

          COMMENTS:  According to the author, "Much like the existing  
          youth offender process, SB 261 holds young people accountable  
          and responsible for what they did. They must serve a minimum of  
          15 to 25 years in prison depending on their offense, and must  
          demonstrate remorse, maturity, and rehabilitation to be suitable  
          for parole. 

          "This reflects science, law, and common sense. Recent  
          neurological research shows that cognitive brain development  
          continues well beyond age 18 and into early adulthood. For boys  
          and young men in particular, this process continues into the  
          mid-20s. The parts of the brain that are still developing during  
          this process affect judgment and decision-making, and are highly  
          relevant to criminal behavior and culpability. Recent United  
          States Supreme Court cases including Roper v. Simmons, Graham v.  
          Florida, and Miller v. Alabama recognize the neurological  
          difference between youth and adults. The fact that youth are  
          still developing makes them especially capable of personal  


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          development and growth.

          "The State of California recognizes this as well. State law  
          provides youth with foster care services until age 21. It  
          extends Division of Juvenile Justice jurisdiction until age 23.  
          It also provides special opportunities for youth in our state  
          prison system through age 25. 

          "To be clear: SB 261 is by no means a 'free ticket' for release.  
          There is no mandate to a reduced sentence or release on parole,  
          only the opportunity for a parole hearing after serving at least  
          15 to 25 years in state prison. Even after that period there is  
          no guarantee for a grant of parole. The Board still has to  
          examine each inmate's suitability for parole, the criteria for  
          which this bill does not change. 

          "SB 261 will give young adults in our prisons hope and incentive  
          to improve their lives."

          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Stella Choe / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744  FN:  


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