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What if the rest of your life were determined by a decision you made when you were 16 years old? For Cyntoia Brown, that scenario is a reality. When she was 16 years old, she murdered a man who would have forced her into prostitution. Now Cyntoia is locked up for the rest of her life, with no possibility for parole.
California SB 9 would give the 300 inmates in California who were given life sentences when they were children, many with stories like Cyntoia's, a second chance. SB 9 would allow these young adults to petition the court for a review of their sentence after serving 10 years behind bars.
Serious crimes committed by children are often brought about by extreme circumstances. Many children sentenced to life without parole grew up in an abusive or neglectful environment that contributed to their crime.
Furthermore, research shows that a teenager's brain is still developing well into their early twenties. (Everyone knows a surly high school student who turned out just fine later in life.) So a kid who was easily persuaded to be an accomplice in a convenience store robbery will naturally improve their self-control and decision-making skills just by getting older. The facts show that a hot-tempered child can turn into a rational-minded adult.
SB 9 wouldn't free any inmates. It wouldn't even guarantee them parole. But it would give them a chance to rise above a single terrible decision that would otherwise determine the course of their lives. So people like Cyntoia Brown-- whom one college professor said "could be a gifted litigator"-- could get a shot at fulfilling some of their potential.
You should take action today: Ask your Assembly member to support California SB 9.
Clarissa Woo is the Director of Policy Advocacy at the ACLU/SC.