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Yee Issues Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Juvenile Life Without Parole
June 25, 2012
SACRAMENTO – Today, the author of California’s legislation to end the sentence of life without parole for juveniles, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), issued the following statement in response to the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States dealing with juvenile life without parole sentencing:
“Today’s ruling was yet another step towards ending life without parole for juveniles. The Supreme Court recognized once again that children are different from adults, and ‘the distinct attributes of youth diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders, even when they commit terrible crimes.’ Considering no other country in the world administers this sentence for kids, the punishment is clearly cruel and unusual.
The Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the mandating of such sentences, which was the issue before them. While LWOP is the presumptive sentence in California, a judge may supersede and provide a lower sentence, and thus our state law is not directly affected by the high court decision.
With that said, the Court’s ruling comports with the rationale of SB 9. As the Court opined, it is near impossible for a judge to distinguish at this early age between ‘the juvenile offender whose crime reflects unfortunate yet transient immaturity, and the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption.’
SB 9 would ensure a review of these cases once a juvenile offender has grown up, matured and can demonstrate the adult he or she has become. The Supreme Court has clearly stated that we must treat children differently due to brain development and thus I urge the Assembly to immediately pass this legislation.”
Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,