Juvenile Justice Policy Updates

Posted Oct. 1, 2019

In a plan advanced by Governor Gavin Newsom, the state Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has been reorganized, shifting it from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to a newly-formed Department of Youth and Community Restoration within the Health and Human Services Agency. Other updates during this legislative season include:

SB 419 (Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley): Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 419 into law. The bill permanently prohibits willful defiance suspensions and expulsions in grades four and five. It also bans such suspensions and expulsions in grades six through eight for five years.

AB 901 (Mike Gipson, D-Carson): Eliminates the use of “voluntary probation” in schools to ensure students receive appropriate interventions rather than being criminalized for academic reasons or typical adolescent behavior. Passed Assembly and is currently being reviewed in Senate Education committee.

AB 656 (Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella): Creates a new statewide Office of Healthy and Safe Communities that will develop a vision and strategic plan for ending cycles of violence through community-based approaches. Passed Assembly and awaiting Senate Appropriations approval.

AB 175 (Gipson, D-Carson): Expands the foster care ‘bill of rights’ to include many new rights such as the right to privacy regarding gender identity and sexual orientation, access to health care and grooming products, right to a placement that utilizes trauma-informed and evidence-based de-escalation techniques, and the right to have law enforcement intervene only where there is an imminent threat to life or safety. The bill also includes rights for Indian tribal youth. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 413 (Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles): Amends multiple sections of the Education and Penal codes to replace references to “at-risk” or “high-risk” children or youth with “at-promise” children or youth. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 927 (Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles): Requires both criminal and juvenile courts, prior to imposing a fine or fee on a defendant for a misdemeanor or felony, to determine whether defendant has the ability to pay the fine or fee based on specific criteria. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 965 (Stone, D-Santa Cruz): Reduces wait time for youth parole hearings by having CDCR (Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation) adopt regulations to determine what, if any, program time-credits an eligible incarcerated youth will receive to advance their parole hearing date. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 1061 (Gipson, D-Carson): Requires placement preservation strategy for foster youth who are on probation to be developed by social worker or probation officer with the caregiver in consultation with the relevant child and family team. Meant to prevent abrupt or unnecessary changes in foster placements. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 1235 (Chu, D-San Jose): Renames “runaway and homeless youth shelter” category of community care facilities licensed by state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) to be called “Youth Homelessness Prevention Centers.” Expands mission to include “youth who are at risk of homelessness, youth who are exhibiting status offender behavior, or runaway youth” and increases service provision length to be up to 90 days, an increase from 21 days. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 1354 (Gipson, D-Carson): Expands requirements of Education Code Section 48647 regarding transition plans and services for youth involved with the justice system. Requires county offices of education to collaborate “as needed” with the probation department, and with local education agencies, to take specific steps to support swift enrollment, records transfer, appropriate coursework, and other links to mainstream or public schools. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 1394 (Daly, D-Anaheim): Ban on fees charged for youth record sealing petitions. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 1423 (Wicks, D-Oakland): Establishes a new process for returning cases to juvenile court from adult criminal court. Passed Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

AB 1454 (Jones-Sawyer, D. – L.A.): Sets out the terms for a new round of Youth Reinvestment Grants. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

SB 284 (Beall, D.- San Jose): Raises the statutory cost or charge to a county for certain commitments of juveniles to the state youth corrections system (DJJ). The goals of the bill are to disincentivize DJJ commitments of younger children and those with lower-level offenses that qualify for admission to DJJ, and to encourage retention of custody and supervision in local settings. Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.

SB 716 (Mitchell, D-Los Angeles): Requires probation departments and the Division of Juvenile Facilities to ensure that certain youth in their facilities—those who have a high school diploma or equivalency certificate—have access to post-secondary academic and technical programs and courses that are “offered online.” Passed both Assembly and Senate and awaiting the Governor’s signature.