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Progress on Bill to End Life Without Parole for Children in California

On April 17, the California Senate’s Public Safety Committee approved the Juvenile Life Without Parole Reform Act, a bill that would eliminate life without parole sentencing for offenders under age 18. If passed by the Senate, the bill would allow for parole hearings after 25 years for child offenders who demonstrate convincing evidence of rehabilitation. Human Rights Watch testified at the Committee hearing and, with the help of our California Committee members and young advocates, conducted extensive advocacy. For the past several years, Human Rights Watch has worked to end life without parole for children in the United States, which is one of only four countries in the world to impose the sentence. In 2005, together with Amnesty International, we released the first national study exposing the extent and impact of the sentence. Of over 2,270 such cases in the United States, 227 are in California. By contrast, throughout the rest of the world there are only 12 people serving life without parole for crimes they committed as children. In the coming months, we will continue to push California, and other states, to enact measures to end the sentence.

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