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Juvenile crimes with life sentences may get parole in California

In a move designed to emulate a recent Supreme Court ruling, a new policy for young lifers has passed the state Assembly. The legislative body has voted that California inmates sentenced to life in prison without parole for juvenile crimes would now be eligible for parole. The measure has not yet passed the Senate.

The relevant Supreme Court decision automatically gives offenders the chance for parole after 25 years in prison. An existing state law allows young offenders to request a hearing to attempt to have their sentences reduced from life to 25 years to life with a chance at parole. Critics of this legislation say it does not require the hearing and that it does not go far enough to protect the youthful offenders. 

Proponents of the new law claim that youthful criminals are more likely to change and may have acted out of immature reasons. As long as the crime does not reflect a permanent incorrigibility, the person has the option, but not the guarantee, of receiving parole. Opponents say the move is not fair to other offenders. The bill, if passed into law, currently would affect about 270 individuals in prison. 

The proposed law aims to give offenders a second chance to redeem themselves for their juvenile crimes. A person who has been charged with a crime, or who is requesting parole for a conviction, may benefit from another person with legal experience. In California, some individuals choose to contact a lawyer for issues related to criminal charges or appeals. 

Source:, "California Assembly votes to give youthful offenders shot at parole", Don Thompson, Sept. 15, 2017

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