New bills introduced that would change juvenile justice system

(San Diego) A package of new legislation introduced in Sacramento Monday would reform the juvenile justice system. The bills would stop law enforcement and the court from treating juveniles like adults.

At a elementary school in Sacramento, the push to modify the juvenile justice system began. One of the bills introduced would require people younger than 18-years-old to meet with an attorney before waiving their Miranda Rights and being interrogated by law enforcement.

“That’s a parent’s worst nightmare, if you can imagine their child confessing to a crime they did not commit. It is also a nightmare for the police who are seeking the real perpetrator, soft confessions hurt everyone,” says State Senator Ricardo Lara (D) Bell Gardens.

Defense attorney Marlea Dell’Anno says the bill could be a game changer when it comes to prosecuting juveniles.

“There will be no more admissions or confessions with juveniles because no competent attorney is going to allow a minor to speak to the police without them being present,” says defense attorney Marlea Dell’Anno.

Another bill would affect prisoners who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole while minors. The legislation would require those prisoners to be eligible for parole after serving 25-years in prison. Anyone who was sentenced when they were 23-years-old or younger would go before the parole board.

“They will look at what that minor has done during that time period to see what efforts they’ve made at rehabilitation and take that into account,” adds Dell’Anno.

Two state senators from the Los Angeles area are behind the legislation. They say research into children’s brain development is shifting away from treating young people as adults. Instead, there is now more emphasis on prevention and rehabilitation.

“Development in children goes on in their early 20’s,” says Dell’Anno, “I think the justice system is looking at that and trying to take that into account when they  deal with our youth.”

Hearings on the proposed bills start Tuesday in the Senate Public Safety Committee.


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