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Misrepresentation on Juvenile LWOP

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California State Senator Leland Yee has long been on a crusade to exempt from life-without-parole all murderers short of their 18th birthday at the time of crime, even if only a day and regardless of how heinous or numerous their crimes. Now he is resorting to outright misrepresentation to achieve this goal.

Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee had this story by Kim Minugh on Sacto DA Jan Scully's opposition to Yee's bill, SB 399, which is up for a vote in the Assembly.

To underscore her point, Scully cited two recent cases in which juvenile offenders were tried as adults and convicted of first-degree murder: Jimmy Siackasorn, who was 16 when he fatally shot Sacramento County Sheriff's Detective Vu Nguyen; and Frank Abella, who, with another suspect, robbed, tortured and fatally shot disabled William Deer just shy of Abella's 18th birthday.

Yee reacts in a separate story:

"Ms. Scully is misinformed on this issue and her remarks are misguided," said Yee. "The individuals she references will never be released under this bill, and she should know that. The public and the families of victims deserve better than fear-mongering from their elected district attorney.

"She fails to recognize that children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than adults and that some kids deserve a second chance," Yee said.

Yee's unequivocal statement that they will never be released is a falsehood. He does not and cannot know that to a certainty. They would eligible for consideration for release under his bill, and we know very well that courts sometimes order release for persons eligible even when the parole board denies parole.

Yee's implication that the victims' families are on his side has enraged the National Organization of Victims of Juvenile Lifers.  Their press release is here.

And once more, with feeling, 16- and 17-year-olds are not children.

Heritage Foundation's excellent report on this issue is here.

1 Comment

I am a mother of a murder victim. My son Chaz was murdered on Aug 5, 2010 by three juveniles. I just recently learned of this bill and I am outraged! How dare Yee! How can this idiot put the wellbeing of these heartless murderers before the victims and their families. He claims that adolescents have a greater chance of rehabilitation. Well that is great for them. They can be rehabilitated and still remain behind bars serving the sentence that they justly deserve. They lost their rights the minute they stole my sons life! They deserve the same life sentence that I and my family received. They commited a horrible, unspeakable crime and that has shattered a family, a community. They do not deserve a second chance. This makes no sense. Shame on Mr. Yee. Maybe he should take the time to speak to victims families.

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