CALIFORNIA — On Thursday, February 25, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that teenagers aged 14-15 cannot be tried as adults, upholding a 2018 law and 2016 proposition.

The CA Supreme Court ruled that “the amendment [Senate Bill 1391] is fully consistent with and furthers Proposition 57’s fundamental purposes of promoting rehabilitation of youthful offenders and reducing the prison population,” Associate Justice Joshua Groban wrote in the decision.

In November 2016, California voters approved Proposition 57 by 64 percent.  This proposition, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), would “enhance public safety, stop the revolving door of crime by emphasizing rehabilitation, and prevent federal courts from releasing inmates.”

In addition, Proposition 57 allows juvenile judges to “make determination, upon prosecutor motion, whether juveniles age 14 and older should be prosecuted and sentenced as adults for specified offenses,” stated the official government website for the CA judicial branch.

Senate Bill (SB) 1391 was passed by the CA Legislature and signed by former Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018.  It eliminated “the transfer of juveniles accused of committing crimes when they are 14 and 15 years old, unless they are first apprehended after the end of juvenile court jurisdiction,” noted the court decision.

This decision is a reversal by a lower court that called it unconstitutional.  The CA Supreme Court, however, called SB 1391 “lawfully enacted.”

Previously, five other lower courts said there is no conflict between SB 1391 and Proposition 57.

The CA Supreme Court decision comes more than 3 weeks after it rejected a lawsuit that challenged Proposition 22, which prevents ride and delivery service drivers from being classified as state employees.