National Center for Youth Law

At the Center

California Enacts Historic Youth Justice Reforms; Closes Youth Prisons

Closing California State Youth Prisons
the RIGHT WAY

On September 30, 2020, California Governor Newsom signed into law several pieces NCYL sponsored legislation, including a plan that will phase out state-operated youth prisons and instead provide resources to counties for custody, supervision, and support services.

NCYL and coalition of advocates worked with lawmakers to create a plan that emphasizes local innovation and collaboration to improve youth outcomes and public safety, and creates a state Office of Youth and Community Restoration to encourage evidence-based, health-centered approaches to treating youth that have come into conflict with the law.

Now more than ever, youth need community and care, not cops and cages. We look forward to helping with effective implementation of the new plan and ensuring all youth are treated in a manner appropriate for their age, cognitive development, and ability to change.

NCYL applauds California’s latest youth justice reforms across the state.

NEW Protections for Confidentiality and Record Sealing
of Police Diversion Records

Diversion programs have expanded throughout California and increased youth’s access to services and supports outside of the juvenile justice system. However, laws governing the confidentiality and sealing of diversion-related records have not been updated to ensure protections for youth who are diverted from system involvement.

AB 2425 ensures that youth who are diverted from the juvenile justice system are protected from the negative collateral consequences of a police record. This bill also ensures that diversion service providers maintain the confidentiality of their records.

 


Ending Excessive Probation Supervision for Youth
Who Have Not Been Charged With Any Crime

AB 901 ensures that youth who have not been accused of breaking the law are not subject to harmful justice system interventions. Numerous studies have shown that probation involvement – including excessive supervision and services for youth who have not been charged with any crime – does more harm than good and risks trapping youth in the justice system.

AB 901 supports a new vision for youth development and system diversion throughout California by  eliminating “voluntary probation supervision,” and reduces the high economic and emotional costs of youth arrest, court involvement, detention and incarceration that occur much more often once youth come into contact with probation and other law enforcement.

 


Historic Expansion of Miranda Rights for Youth

In 2017, California a law that prohibits police from interrogating youth under age 16 until the youth has had a chance to talk with an attorney about their rights. That law sunsets January 2025.

Now, California’s SB 203 will require all youth under age 18 to consult with an attorney before they decide whether or not to waive their constitutional rights and speak to police during an interrogation. The new law requires an attorney to explain the Miranda rights to the youth and what it means to waive them. By ensuring youth understand their rights, we ensure the outcomes of these police interrogations are just and lawful, and create greater trust, accountability, and due process for all.