By Allen Payton
Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton issued a statement regarding Thursday’s California Supreme Court decision to uphold the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1391 (Lara).
Proposition 57, passed in the November 2016 general election, requires prosecutors to commence all cases involving a minor in juvenile court. Senate Bill No. 1391 enacted in 2018, amended Proposition 57 to prohibit minors under the age of 16 from being transferred to adult criminal court.
In the case of O.G. v. The Superior Court of Ventura County, the Court of Appeal held that Senate Bill 1391 is inconsistent with Proposition 57 and thus invalid. The state Supreme Court overruled the lower court’s decision.
“We agree with the majority view that Senate Bill 1391 was a permissible amendment to Proposition 57 and we reverse the judgment in this case,” the decision reads.
“Today’s unanimous decision by the Supreme Court is an important moment for the criminal justice system to give children a chance at rehabilitation for crimes they committed during their youth,” said Becton. “I have always believed this law was constitutional and should be followed. Our local judges in Contra Costa County have also agreed with me.”
“The juvenile justice system currently is not working,” she continued. “I established a task force to examine how to reform our juvenile justice system. We must think differently on how we treat children and ensure we strategically allocate resources to focus on prevention and rehabilitation efforts.”
The full Supreme Court decision is available here.
Scott Alonso, PIO, CCCDA contributed to this report.