Mother of Slain Grant Union HS Football Player Speaks Out Against SB 1391

SACRAMENTO -- Almost three years into her grief over what happened to her son, Dr. Nicole Clavo has strong words for Gov. Jerry Brown after he signed into law a new way of handling accused 14- and 15-year-old criminals.

"That (JJ) was just a happy-go-lucky kid," Clavo said. "He was full of life and he didn't deserve to be murdered, shot down in the middle of the street in broad daylight. And the person who did this don't deserve to live a life that (JJ) won't be allowed to live."

Keymontae Lindsey, who's accused of killing JJ Clavo, was 15 at the time of the shooting.

Senate Bill 1391 prevents such teens from being tried as adults for even the most violent of crimes, capping their length of potential detention at age 25 in spite of conviction on multiple counts.

Aside from removing what she sees as the biggest deterrent to committing a crime, Nicole Clavo says Brown is helping gangs turn back the clock to a time when the most violent tasks were assigned to the youngest members.

"Because they knew they wouldn't be stuck with a long, heavy sentence," she said.

Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victim's Action Alliance, has the same fear about what this change will mean out on the streets.

"A 14-year-old or 15-year-old could go out and kill 30 people. They could rape 100 people and they're still going to get the same sentence. It can't go any further than that," Ward said.

Defense attorney Mike Wise admits that the new law will be abused by gangs who hope to send young offenders out to commit the worst deeds and by teens who just want to do their time and not take advantage of any rehabilitation options.

But he also says for the vast majority, "If they are this young they can be reformed."

"And they have a chance and hopefully, theoretically, becoming productive members of the community," he said.

Although SB 1391 is now law, it may be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge by a local prosecutor, according to Wise.

"By filing as an adult, if the court denies the petition based on the new law that then puts that legal issue at the center of the case to be pursued by a district attorney in conjunction with the attorney general at the appellate level," he said.