Home > Policies > Youth Justice Policy > Legislative Priorities > 2016 Legislation to Watch: Youth Justice

Abolishing the sentence of juvenile life without the possibility of parole
February 16, 2016

Rais Akbar, juvenile justice policy director, submitted written testimony in support of SB259, which abolishes for juveniles the criminal sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.  The bill recognizes that children, even those convicted of serious crimes, have the capacity for growth, change, and maturation.  A contemporary understanding of adolescent brain development shows that the brains of children are still growing even after they reach 18 years of age.  This has implications for a sentence of such severity and permanence as life without parole.  SB259 would end any further imposition of life without parole for children, though of course other prison sentences remain available to the courts.  To read the testimony, click here.

UPDATE: The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has voted against SB259.

Ensuring that no children in the juvenile justice system are housed in adult jails
February 16, 2016

Rais Akbar, juvenile justice policy director, submitted testimony in support of HB196, which would have required children being tried in adult criminal court to be housed in juvenile facilities pending their trail, instead of adult jails.  Children in adult jails and prisons face greater risk of assault, abuse, and trauma.  Nor do they receive any education while in an adult facility, all of which means the child is not being rehabilitated.  To read the testimony, click here.

UPDATE: The House Judiciary Committee has voted against HB196.

Shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline
February 16, 2016

Rais Akbar, juvenile justice policy director, gave oral testimony in opposition to HB222, which would expand the scope of a crimes treated as felonies.  Current law treats an assault on first responders during the performance of their duties as a felony. This bill would have counted teachers along with first responders, potentially making a number of children, even elementary school aged children, vulnerable to felony charges. The hearing was held on February 9, 2016 for HB222 in which Rais Akbar, juvenile justice policy director, gave the only oral testimony in opposition to the bill.  To hear the testimony, click here.  Rais can be heard at time marker: 4:34:50.

UPDATE: The House Judiciary Committee has voted against HB222.