Sentence Reducing Credits for Youth Offenders

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

SACRAMENTO— California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed AB 965 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D- Monterey Bay) which allows incarcerated individuals who were under the age of 26 at the time of their controlling offense to benefit from the opportunities provided under Proposition 57. This legislation will take effect January 1, 2020.

“Proposition 57 expanded credit earning opportunities so that incarcerated people could earn time off their parole dates by working toward rehabilitation. Unfortunately, people with youth offender hearing dates have been excluded,” said Stone. “These credits will incentivize incarcerated individuals to take advantage of programs that will reduce their parole hearing date, prepare them to succeed beyond incarceration and make the institution safer.”

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation only allows credits earned under Proposition 57 to be applied to the parole hearing date that a person was initially sentenced with, and will not allow credits to be applied to youth offender hearing dates. Therefore, youth offenders are not incentivized to participate in rehabilitative programs with the potential of going home early.

For example, if someone under the age of 26 is sentenced to 100 years, they will be eligible for a youthful parole hearing after serving 25 years. However, they can only apply their credits towards the original 100 year sentence, not the 25 year youthful parole hearing date.

The hope and incentive for rehabilitation created by Prop 57 credits are just as important to youth offenders as they are to the rest of the prison population, and they should not be excluded from benefiting from credits.

AB 965 will allow youth offenders to access the hope and incentives for rehabilitation created by Prop 57 credits that other incarcerated people have been benefiting from. This will incentivize those who were under 26 when convicted to dedicate themselves to rehabilitation, making it far more likely that they will be rehabilitated and ready for release when the time comes for them to go in front of the Board of Parole Hearings.

"As lead proponents of Proposition 57, which authorized California prisons to award time credits to people in prison in order to incentivize good behavior and rehabilitation, we are grateful that our legislature continues to support the spirit and intent of Prop 57, and bring hope and opportunities for redemption in prisons that will ultimately make our communities healthier and safer,” said Frankie Guzman, Director of the California Youth Justice Initiative for the National Center for Youth Law.

We thank the Governor for signing this important legislation.

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