SB 545 – The SAFE Children Act

What is this bill about?

SB 545 will provide minors who are victims of sex trafficking or sexual abuse and fight back against their abusers with the opportunity to heal from their traumas with treatment and services in the juvenile court system, instead of trying them as adults in the criminal court system and sending them to prison.

How does it align with yli’s values?

Under existing law, prosecutors can request that a juvenile court transfer a minor age 15 or older to the jurisdiction of the criminal court if the minor is alleged to have committed certain crimes. This process has resulted in several children who attacked their abusers to have their cases transferred to adult court, where these children who have been traumatized and victimized by adult predators find themselves traumatized a second time by being tried as adults and sentenced to long terms in prison for attacking their abusers.

SB 545 would help ensure that these children who fight back against their abusers never have to experience unnecessary decades of trauma in adult prison. SB 545 does this by declaring the intent of the Legislature that children in these circumstances are victims and prohibiting juvenile courts from transferring these children to the jurisdiction of the criminal court unless the prosecution can show by clear and convincing evidence that the person the child attacked had not trafficked, sexually abused, or sexually battered them. SB 545 would also require the judge to consider a number of specified factors relating to a child’s background, including their trauma history, and involvement in the foster care system, when deciding whether to transfer the child to the adult criminal court.

yli partners with thousands of youth across the state, the majority of whom are low-income youth of color. We witness first hand the brutal impacts of our state’s harmful “justice” system on their lives, and are staunch advocates of measures that will reduce the criminalization and incarceration of our communities.

This policy aligns with our Racial Justice Platform, which addresses the impacts of the carceral system on communities of color.

What is yli doing about it?

We have just submitted a letter endorsing this bill, and we are showing our support on our communications channels.

Who sponsored this bill?

  • Human Rights for Kids

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