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Senate Bill (SB) 439, a bill co-sponsored by CJCJ and others, passed in the Legislature and is awaiting a signature from the Governor. If signed into law, this bill will help children and families across California, but we need your voice to make it happen. 

Get involved!

Submit a letter urging the Governor’s signature to leg.​unit@​gov.​ca.​gov. Please copy Jorge.​Barajas@​sen.​ca.​gov and Maureen@​cjcj.​org and feel free to use this sample support letter. Place a 30-second call to the Governor’s office at (916) 4452841:

Hello, my name is _____ and I’m calling in support of SB 439. The juvenile justice system is no place for young children. I urge the Governor to sign SB 439 into law. Thank you.”

SB 439 will:

  • End the early criminalization of children by establishing a minimum age for juvenile court prosecution at age 12.
  • Establish alternative pathways to services for children under 12 whose behavior is indicative of unmet needs.
  • Leverage new and existing funding streams, including the $37.3 million Youth Reinvestment Fund, to offer age-appropriate interventions for young children.

California currently has no minimum age for prosecuting children in its juvenile justice system, yet the research is clear: early justice system contact does measurable harm to children’s health and development and exposes them to a system they cannot fully understand. Each year, hundreds of children aged 11 and younger are subject to juvenile justice system processing — most for child-like behavior or minor misbehavior, such as schoolyard fights. Black and Latino children bear the brunt of California’s practice of prosecuting young children, with disparities that grow larger at each stage of the process. The juvenile justice system was not designed for young children and is ill-equipped to respond to their needs. This bill will end the prosecution of children under the age of 12 and empower alternative child-serving systems, including mental health, education, and child welfare agencies, to deliver treatment and family support in place of prosecution.

Authors: Senator Holly J. Mitchell and Senator Ricardo Lara


  • Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
  • Children’s Defense Fund – California
  • National Center for Youth Law
  • Haywood Burns Institute
  • Youth Justice Coalition – Los Angeles
  • Anti-Recidivism Coalition

Status: Governor’s Desk

CJCJ Co-sponsored Legislation

CJCJ Co-sponsored Bills Clear Senate Policy Committees

CJCJ Co-sponsors Legislation to Reform the Juvenile Justice System