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New Ruling on Trying Juveniles as Adults Could Affect Hundreds of Cases

March 16, 2017

Bob Egelko reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that a ballot measure requiring juvenile court judges to decide whether a youth should be tried as an adult applies to cases filed before the measure passed in November. The ruling could affect hundreds of cases. 

The measure, Proposition 57, sponsored by Gov. Jerry Brown, was approved by 64 percent of the state’s voters. Its best-known provision allowed early parole hearings for prisoners serving long terms for crimes that the law defined as nonviolent. Monday’s ruling involved a separate section that reduced prosecutors’ authority to charge juveniles in adult court.

Juveniles as young as 14 who are convicted in adult court can be sentenced to the same terms as adults — up to life in prison for murder and some crimes involving guns. Those convicted in juvenile court must be released at age 23, except in rare cases when a judge finds that a youth poses a danger to society. 

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