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Lawmakers Seek Changes to California Juvenile Justice System

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SACRAMENTO (AP) — California would start treating juvenile offenders more like children under proposals being considered in the state Legislature.

Democratic state senators Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles and Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens said Monday that their four bills would keep more youthful offenders out of the criminal justice system.

They say the bills reflect research showing that children’s brains are different from adults. The senators say that means the state should emphasize rehabilitation over incarceration.

One bill would ban collecting fees from the families of juvenile delinquents.

Another would require that minors talk with a lawyer before waiving any rights.

The package would also keep children age 11 and younger out of juvenile courts and write into law a legal decision that minors can’t be sentenced to life without parole.