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Governor Newsom Signs Youth Justice Act

For immediate release:

(Los Angeles, CA)Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2629 – The Youth Justice Act – a bill that will greatly improve juveniles’ chances to fully reintegrate into society and become success adults after their time in the juvenile justice system. A juvenile court justice system will now have to give great weight to factors such as a juvenile’s successful completion of probation when considering whether to dismiss a juvenile’s petition. Lead author Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and sponsors Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, and Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) released the following statements:

“Our juvenile justice system’s primary focus is to rehabilitate youth so they can go on to become leaders in their communities,” said Assembly Member Santiago. “Yet, youth must endure endless collateral consequences after they’re discharged from the system that make it harder for them to truly reintegrate into society. That’s why the Youth Justice Act will allow for youth to demonstrate that they’ve improved their lives and petition a judge to dismiss their record so they may empower themselves to live long, successful lives.”

“Assembly Bill 2629, knocks down impediments for justice-involved youths who are striving for a brighter future,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “While juvenile courts have had the ability to seal a youth’s court records, it still hindered their ability to enlist in the military, obtain occupational licenses and achieve meaningful employment. This new law facilitates the dismissal of past juvenile court petitions so that individuals may pursue employment and educational opportunities. AB 2629 is an important step in breaking the cycle of recidivism.”

“We are deeply grateful to Assembly Member Santiago for authoring this transformative bill,” said Jonathan Laba, Legislative Co-Chair for the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center (a co-sponsor of the bill). “AB 2629 will help thousands of justice-involved youth every year fully disentangle from the collateral consequences of juvenile justice system involvement and support their successful, productive entry into society as they enter adulthood.”

“Every child deserves a second chance,” said Elijah Orr, Policy Advocate from the Anti-Recidivism Coalition. “AB2629 gives kids the right to live their dreams, by granting the opportunity to petition for dismissal of their juvenile records.”

“FLY is thrilled that Governor Newsom signed AB 2629 to allow youth to put their juvenile records completely behind them as they move into adulthood,” said Ali Knight, CEO of FLY. “We are grateful for Assemblymember Santiago’s leadership on this issue and for recognizing that all youth deserve a chance to be more than their past mistakes!”

AB 2629 would help justice-impacted youth fully disentangle from the collateral consequences of juvenile justice system involvement by creating a great weight standard, for certain cases, that a juvenile adjudication should be dismissed after the juvenile exists juvenile court jurisdiction, unless there is evidence that the dismissal of the petition would endanger public safety. The bill also provides guidance to the juvenile court in the application of its discretion. By facilitating the dismissal of juvenile court petitions when the court ends jurisdiction, this bill will allow justice-impacted youth to fully access future opportunities so they may empower themselves to live productive lives.

This bill will take effect on January 1, 2023.

Assembly Member Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization and Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Los Angeles County Homelessness. He also sits on the Assembly Committees on Public Safety, Health, Higher Education and Utilities and Energy. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.