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House Democratic Leader Pelosi Urges Signature of SB 9
September 21, 2012
Leader Pelosi urges Governor to Sign Senator Yee’s Bill to Give Youth Offenders a Second Chance
SACRAMENTO – Today, Democratic Leader of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi called on Governor Jerry Brown to sign legislation that would give youth serving life without parole an opportunity to earn a second chance.
The governor has nine days to act on Senate Bill 9 – The Fair Sentencing for Youth Act – authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo).
In a letter to the governor, Pelosi wrote:
“I am writing to express my strong support for Senator Leland Yee’s juvenile sentencing reform legislation, SB 9, which would provide a much needed path towards reforming California’s sentencing laws…Around the world and across our nation, civilized societies are increasingly prohibiting life-without parole sentences for juveniles, recognizing that juveniles do not possess the same mental development as adults.”
“Leader Pelosi has the wisdom to understand that children can change and that SB 9 is not a get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Yee. “Unlike many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, she promotes facts and compassion rather than fear-mongering and retribution. I am honored to have her support on this critical issue for our kids and our state.”
Another former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich today also called on the governor to sign SB 9.
Under Senate Bill 9, courts could review cases of juveniles sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) after 15 years, potentially allowing some individuals to receive a new minimum sentence of 25 years to life. The bill would require the offender to show remorse and be working towards rehabilitation in order to submit a petition for consideration of the new sentence.
Currently, prosecutors and judges have discretion on whether to pursue LWOP for juveniles. However, several cases call such discretion into question.
One such case involves Christian Bracamontes, who was 16 and had never before been in trouble with the law. One day when Christian's friend said, “Hey do you want to rob this guy?” Christian replied in what can only be described as a quintessential adolescent response, “I don't care.” When the victim refused to comply with his friend's demand, Christian said he thought the bluff was called, and he remembered turning away and bending down to pick up his bike and leave, when he heard a gunshot.
The prosecutor offered a lower sentence, but in Christian's teenaged mind he could not see how he would be responsible for the other person's actions and he turned down that deal. The DA was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “It's hard for teenagers to understand concepts like aiding and abetting.” Christian was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,