Cali Grants Basic Rights to Juv Parole Violators

Settling a federal class-action lawsuit in Sacramento yesterday, the State of California agreed to extend basic constitutional rights to juveniles charged with parole violations. The LA Times reports, “The lawsuit, filed nearly two years ago by former wards of the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice, alleged that the state was violating youths’ rights to due process by detaining them for months without legal counsel or a hearing on the charges and by failing to offer assistance for those who were disabled, as required by federal law.”

The state has until December to implement the deal, which requires juveniles to be notified of alleged parole violations within three business days of detention and provided access to counsel within eight business days; hearings must be held within thirty-five calendar days. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the agreement also requires that the DJJ limit sentences for parole violations to one year and refrain from shackling youths at parole revocation hearings unless the youth is deemed to be dangerous. Karen de Sa of the San Jose Mercury News adds that defendants will now have “the right to a well-defined route of appeal.”

Before the settlement was reached, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi told de Sa, young parole violators were being sentenced to a “legal limbo where you had no rights, no hearing date and no lawyer.” Now, DJJ head Bernie Warner agrees, there is “a fair and just process that’s good for everyone.”

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