Governor Brown Enacts Major Youth Justice Legislation

Late in the 2018 legislative session, California Governor Jerry Brown, in his last term as Governor, signed a series of bills that will increase fairness and developmentally appropriate treatment for children and youth accused of violating criminal laws.

These bills made it to the Governor’s desk, in large part, because of the efforts of many advocates from among PJDC’s membership, including Elizabeth Calvin, Rourke Stacy-Padilla, Sue Burrell, Arthur Bowie, Patti Lee, Pam Villanueva, Eileen Manning-Villar, Virginia Corrigan, Javier Stauring, Laura Ridolfi, David Steinhart, Lynn Wu, Patricia Soung, Andrea Pelochino. Their work in crafting reforms, as well as educating policymakers and the public helped to contribute to the success of these measures.

Key juvenile justice bills signed by the Governor include:

  • AB 1214 (Stone) – expands guidance on the handling of cases involving juvenile incompetence to stand trial; including rules on burden of proof; appointment of experts, qualifications and duties; procedural sequence and timelines; remediation services; confinement time; and county protocols


  • AB 1584 (Gonzalez-Fletcher) – imposes rules and due process protections for youth in connection with voluntary DNA testing


  • AB 2448 (Gipson) – establishes the right of youth in juvenile halls, camps and in non-secure custodial settings to computer technology and the internet for educational purposes, and opens the door to access for maintaining relationships with families


  • AB 2595 (Obernolte) – requires juvenile courts to set a maximum confinement time in commitments to the Division of Juvenile Justice; and reaffirms the authority of the Board of Juvenile Hearings and counties in relation to discharge


  • AB 2952 (Stone) – amends record sealing rules to allow access to sealed records for “Brady” rule requirements that the prosecutor provide exculpatory evidence, subject to limits on use of the information


  • SB 438 (Mitchell & Lara) – sets jurisdictional age for juvenile court in delinquency and status offense cases at 12 to 17 except for cases involving murder or specified sex cases; requires counties to develop alternative responses for younger children who previously would have been prosecuted in juvenile court


  • SB 1391 (Mitchell and Lara) – eliminates eligibility for transfer to adult court of youth 14 and 15 years of age


  • SB 1437 (Skinner) – affects many juvenile cases because youth often act in groups – narrows eligibility for felony murder rule to require that the person was the actual killer, aided or abetted the killer with intent to kill, or was a major participant in the felony acting with reckless indifference to human life; does not apply if the victim was a peace officer; provides for retroactive relief by petition

The bills are each available at the California Legislative Information web page by using the quick bill search tool:

Sequential press releases from the Governor with signing messages are available here: