This bill recognizes that 14 and 15 year olds are developmentally different from adults and should not be treated like adults in the criminal justice system. If they commit crimes, youth fare better and are less likely to commit crimes in the future if they are given age-appropriate services and education. This bill prohibits children age 14 and 15 from being tried as adults in criminal court and being sentenced to time in adult prison.
AAP Positional Letter
June 19, 2018
The Honorable Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr.
Chair, Assembly Public Safety Committee
1020 N Street, Room 111
Sacramento, CA 95814
RE: SB 1391 (Lara) Juveniles: fitness for juvenile court
AAP-CA Position: Support
Dear Chair Jones-Sawyer,
The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 5,000 California pediatricians, strongly supports proposed legislation SB 1391 (Lara), which would end the transfer of children ages 14 and 15 years to adult criminal court.
Adolescent brains work differently than those of adults. Studies have shown that adolescents’ actions are guided more by their emotions causing them to act on impulse, engage in risky behavior, and to not consider the consequences of their actions. As a result, juvenile systems are required to provide education services as well as individualized services to address behavioral health, disabilities, trauma and other needs. In contrast, in the adult state prison system, these kinds of services are not required, and often are not available. Also, staff in local and state juvenile facilities receive special training to address the needs of adolescents – something that is missing in the state prison system. Since children in juvenile systems will be released to the community at some point, it is critically important that they receive services designed to help them to succeed upon release.
SB 1391 (Lara) takes into account our understanding of adolescent development and the role the juvenile justice system can play in stopping recidivism. By prohibiting the transfer of children ages 14 and 15 to adult courts, SB 1391 will help to ensure that youth receive the treatment, counseling, and education they need to develop into healthy successful, adults.
Pediatrician members of AAP California Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 across the state urge you to vote AYE on SB 1391 (Lara). Thank you for your public service and leadership on behalf of the health and wellbeing of children, youth, and families in California.
Jayme Congdon, M.D., M.S.
Resident Representative Member, AAP-CA State Government Affairs Committee
American Academy of Pediatrics, California
cc: Assembly Public Safety Committee Members
Office of Honorable Ricardo Lara, California State Assembly (Author)
AAP-CA Leadership; Lobbyist Lydia Bourne