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August 31, 2016 marked the close of the 2016 legislative session. Bills that passed both houses must be signed or vetoed by Governor Brown before September 30th.

Each year, CJCJ selects a limited number of bills that closely align with the agency’s commitment to reducing incarceration and fostering long-term public safety. This year, 11 of the 15 bills CJCJ supported passed both houses. Three of these bills are featured below: Assembly Bill (AB) 1998 (Campos), Senate Bill (SB) 1052 (Lara), and Senate Bill (SB) 1157 (Mitchell). For a full list of bills supported by CJCJ, see Table 1.

CJCJ’s slate of priority bills is poised to transform juvenile and criminal justice in California, providing fairer treatment to those most negatively impacted by the justice system. To ensure much-needed reform, Governor Brown must heed the guidance of the advocacy community and sign these bills into law.

Table 1. Legislation Supported by CJCJ in 2016 

Assembly Bill 1998 

AB 1998, authored by Assemblymember Nora Campos, will improve the collection and analysis of juvenile justice data in California by simplifying local reporting requirements.

Currently, counties are required to submit separate reports to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) on the outcomes of two juvenile justice grant programs: the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) and the Youthful Offender Block Grant (YOBG). However, a 2015 review by the BSCC’s Juvenile Justice Data Working Group (JJDWG) found that these county reports produced unusable data and were unnecessarily burdensome. As amended, AB 1998 will codify the recommendations of the JJDWG by combining the two grant program reports and refining their data reporting requirements.

Senate Bill 1052

SB 1052, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, will guarantee that youth under 18 have access to counsel before being interrogated by law enforcement.

Currently, when young people, of any age, are detained by police, they are authorized to waive their Miranda rights and submit to questioning without ever consulting with a guardian or attorney. Yet children and youth often misinterpret the Miranda warning or agree to be questioned in response to police pressures. 2012 study on false confessions and exonerations found that 42 percent of youth under 18 falsely confess to a crime during interrogation compared to 8 percent of adults.

SB 1052 would require youth under 18 to speak with an attorney before waiving their Miranda rights, a safeguard that protects youth and ensures justice in our courts. Throughout the legislative session, Senator Lara, Human Rights Watch, ally organizations, and youth from across the state served as strong champions of the bill, shepherding it through a series of successful votes in the Senate and the Assembly.

Senate Bill 1157

SB 1157, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell, will preserve in-person visitation for people in jails throughout the state. 

Increasingly, jail facilities are adopting video conference technology in place of in-person visitation. Yet, speaking to a loved one through a screen inhibits authentic communication and places a great burden on families. SB 1157 will ensure that people incarcerated in jails have routine access to in-person visitation, allowing them to maintain strong ties to their families and communities.

The bill is sponsored by a coalition of advocacy organizations, including the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the Friends Committee on Legislation of California, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and the Prison Law Office.

Related Links:

Spotlight on New Juvenile and Criminal Justice Legislation

California Youth Raise Their Voices Strong and Loud”

CJCJ’s legislative priorities for 2015