California Bill Seeks to Prevent Children Under the age of 12 from being Prosecuted
Senate Bill 439 (SB 439), authored by California State Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, is being pushed to bar the state from prosecuting children under the age of 12 years old. The Sacramento Bee states:
Mitchell believes it makes more sense to attempt to understand the source of the child’s problems that led up to the crime and use social services to help them. In lieu of doing time in a jail cell at juvenile hall, children would be redirected to dependency court, child protective services, mental health counseling and other services at the local level.
Opponents however, view the bill as causing more problems than it solves. In 2015, only 69 out of 874 cases from a juvenile court in California resulted in a guilty verdict. Opponents fear that cases involving a serious crime by a child under the age of 12 would be exempted by SB 439 and the child would not be adequately punished. Advocates argue that those types of cases are rare, thus making the bill necessary to provide children with the proper help that they need. Whether the bill passes or not, Senator Mitchell brings up a good point about children needing proper help.
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