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ACTION ALERT: Youth Sentencing

Updated: August 12, 2011

Dear California Jesuits & Partners in Mission,

As you are well aware, the California Province of the Society of Jesus is committed to ministry with people who are incarcerated, their victims, and the families of all those affected by their crimes. Through the work of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, headed by Mike Kennedy, SJ and Homeboy Industries, headed by Greg Boyle, SJ, hundreds of people throughout the province have come to know the tragic reality that youth offenders in the state of California are regularly sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Effectively, these young men and women are sentenced to death behind bars for crimes that they committed at an age when they are incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions. One of the social priorities of the California Province is to participate in the transformation of our culture of incarceration into a culture that seeks restoration. The following action alert is an opportunity for everyone who lives in California in the province to participate in the beginning of such a transformation.

As people of faith, the California Province joins the California Catholic Conference and representatives from many other faith traditions in a common commitment to redemption and healing for all those affected by crime and violence. On August 22nd, 2011 people of faith across the state of California will pray, meditate, and reflect on healing for all those affected by serious crime. We will remember victims, communities, offenders, and others. We will ask that Senate Bill 9 -- which creates the possibility for judges to review the juvenile sentence of life without the possibility of parole for certain inmates under in very limited circumstances -- be passed, allowing youth sentenced to life without parole a possible second chance. For more information about SB 9, please visit the following interfaith resource: Fair Sentencing for Youth.

This is the final push to pass this important bill. Your help in very much needed. There are many ways you and your faith community, school, or ministry can get involved:

  • Join us in a statewide Day of Prayer, Reflection, and Hope on August 22nd.
  • Join us at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Monday, August 22nd to show legislators that people of faith support SB 9. (See below for more info.)
  • Call or e-mail your Assembly Member today and let him or her know that you support SB 9, which makes possible an opportunity for the review of certain juvenile sentences of life without the possibility of parole, and urge a yes vote. (Go to http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html for your Assembly Member’s name, phone number, and website.)
  • Call Governor Brown today and ask for his support of SB 9. (Gov. Brown’s office number is (916) 445-2841.
  • The message is simple: “I would like to urge you to pass SB 9 – The Fair Sentences for Youth Act. Children who commit crimes are not disposable. I believe that juvenile sentences of life without the possibility for parole should be reviewable. Thank you!”

Attending the Vigil at the Capitol: People of Faith Support SB 9 on Monday, August 22nd Our diverse faith traditions call us to action. On August 22nd, we will gather at the State Capitol in a vigil: a physical presence standing for the belief that our laws can be more just and can promote healing. Our presence at the Capitol will urge political leaders to support SB 9 and give youth a second chance. Please email lwanner@cacatholic.org with the subject line, “SB 9” if you are able to attend.

Action: People will join together at the State Capitol urging passage of SB9. A brief outline of the day’s schedule is provided below:

9:30 Preparation: Understanding SB 9 and preparing for the day

(Meet at the California Catholic Conference of Bishops office at 1119 K St.)

10:15 Walk to the Capitol together
10:30 Meet on the north Capitol steps for a brief reflection
11:00 Go into the Capitol together to assigned locations in hallways for a vigil and presence
Thereafter: Those who can stay may drop-by legislators’ offices in person.

Join the Vigil at the Capitol in Spirit

If you are unable to attend the physical vigil in Sacramento but believe we must sentence young offenders fairly and provide them with second chances, please join the vigil in spirit.

Action: People across the state will act in accordance with their tradition of prayer, contemplation, etc. throughout the day on August 22nd, urging passage for SB 9.

For more information, go to www.fairsentencingforyouth.org

More Information:
» Click here to find out What You Can Do Right Now
» Click here to read about the Senate Bill No. 9