Governor Brown Signs SB 1296 Into Law Forbidding Incarceration For Truant Youth In California

On June  27, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed in law  SB 1296 (Leno), outlawing incarceration as a contempt sanction for youth adjudicated as truants (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 601).  In re Michael G. (1988) 44 Cal.3d 283, a Lucas court decision, had carved out an exception to statutes expressly prohibiting confinement for section 601 status wards, permitting juvenile courts to use incarceration as a contempt sanction for violation of a court order.  This measure, sponsored by East Bay Children’s Law Office and Youth Law Center, and actively supported by PJDC, closes that loophole once and for all.  In so doing, SB 1296 dismantles a small, but significant part of the school-to-prison pipeline.  California is now in accord with national standards and joins at least 14 other states that have passed laws prohibiting incarceration of this population of young people who have committed no crime.