April 4, 2017: PUBLIC NEWS SERVICE - California Bill to Ban Prosecution of Kids Under 12 Gets Hearing Today

April 04, 2017

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A bill to keep children under 12 out of the juvenile court system gets a hearing before the state Senate Public Safety Committee today.

SB 439 would instead require that children 11 or younger be referred to child protective services and thus be spared time in juvenile hall and have no criminal record.

The bill's author, state Sen. Holly Mitchell, says jail is no place for children that young - who need services, not punishment.

"These alternative services provide children the help necessary to overcome negative circumstances in their lives, thereby giving them access to the resources they need to be productive, contributing residents of our states," she explained.

Mitchell notes that more than 70 percent of children recommended for prosecution in California are African-American or Latino, which exposes them to what she calls the "cradle to prison pipeline."

A second bill, SB 190, by the same author, gets a hearing before the Senate Public Safety Committee today at 1 P.M. It ends the fees that families are charged when their children are held in juvenile hall or probation camps.

And it also bans court fees for ankle monitoring and public defenders. Mitchell says the costs can devastate low-income families that already are hurting.

"These fees can quickly add up to thousands of dollars and disproportionately impact families of color," she added. "Administrative fees undermine the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile-justice system by straining family relations and harming familial economic stability."

Another bill, SB 607, ends out-of-school suspensions for willful defiance for kids K-12.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA


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