Mass Incarceration of CA Teens Inspires Legislative Reform

Michael Mendoza made the worst decision of his life when was just 15 years old. He had recently joined a new family—a gang—to replace the troubled relationship with his father. Eager for approval, he went out for a ride with some of his new family members. The drive ended with a passenger in the front aiming a gun out the window and killing a rival gang member.

“At that moment, I was totally ignorant,” Mendoza says. “I didn’t consider the impact that this decision would have, not just on this man, but on his family, on my family and on the community. All I cared about was me—all I could think about was me.”

A month after his 15th birthday, Mendoza was arrested and found suitable to be tried as an adult. The gravity of the situation hadn’t sunk in yet. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll probably go home in about a week or so, and I’ll never get involved with things like this again,’” he says. Instead he received a 15-year-to-life sentence. Only then did Mendoza finally wake up to reality. “It’s the most hopeless thing you can feel,” he says. “It just felt like you’re dying inside. You matter to no one and you just become a number that nobody cares about.”

More than 6,500 of California’s 130,000 inmates committed crimes under the age of 18, like Mendoza. Many experience similar emotions when sentenced to decades or life in prison, says to Dave Robinson, a chaplain at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Santa Clara County. “Their whole sense of hope is shattered,” he says. “How do you process that you’re going to do 10, 15, 20 years? It’s incomprehensible. It just develops more anger, more rage, more sense of hopelessness and more tendencies to act out.”

The only way out of this cycle is for youth to maintain “a sense of personal hope,” Robinson adds. It took nearly a nearly a decade behind bars for Mendoza to find his. He started going to church and working towards his associate’s degree and several vocational programs. And then, in 2013, life changed.

The California legislature passed SB 260, a youth offender bill that set up a new parole process for those who were minors at the time of their crimes. These youth offenders could now visit the board of parole hearings ahead of schedule—after 15, 20 or 25 years, depending on their original sentence—and have their age at the time of the crime considered “with great weight.”

“I didn’t know there were people out there fighting for individuals like me,” Mendoza says. “As a young inmate, you spend so many years believing that you’re being thrown away, and now they’re picking you up, saying, ‘We see the potential that you have.’ After so many years, it started to make me realize that I should prove people right for a change.”

Mendoza went before the parole board, eager to show that he was “no longer that 15-year-old boy.” After 17 years—more than half of his life—Mendoza got his release.

Today, the 34-year-old lives in Oakland, works full-time for a marketing firm and is studying to get his bachelor’s degree in business marketing at San Francisco State. Mendoza’s story isn’t unusual—so far, there hasn’t been a single incident of recidivism among several hundred SB 260 parolees. With the success found in changing the law, California’s legislature is now deliberating SB 261, which would expand the young offender parole hearings by upping the age of eligibility to 23.

“SB 260 and 261 give young people hope, give them an incentive to change,” says state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), who authored both bills. “And really, it’s only an opportunity. The board of parole hearings is very tough, and they only grant parole in less than 15 percent of cases—but it’s an opportunity that means a lot to the individual human beings.”

The idea behind both bills is to right the wrongs of mass incarceration policies created in preceding decades. A fear of “superpredators”—a wave of child criminals taking over U.S. cities—led to tougher laws against young people nationwide. In California, this took form in Proposition 21, which passed in 2000 and made it easier to try juveniles as adults. In recent years, however, legislation has attempted to move in the other direction, such as eliminating life without the possibility of parole for those under the age of 18. Even with these changes, many youth still receive “de facto life” sentences, which can go up to 110 years.

“For us to make a decision when they’re 16 or 17 years old that will maybe keep them in prison for their whole lives—that’s not what we should do,” says Sue Burrell, an attorney at the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, which co-sponsored SB 260. “What we should do is give them opportunities to demonstrate that they are now mature, that they have taken advantage of whatever opportunities to rehabilitate themselves.”

Supporters often point to neuroscience, which shows that the brain doesn’t fully mature until about age 25. Jay Giedd, a pediatric neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, explains that the part of the brain that controls “long-range planning, controlling impulses, and in choosing the larger, later reward instead of the smaller, sooner reward” is “still under active construction into the mid-20s.”

“People used to think that it was 5 or 6 years old in terms of when things were static in your morality and identity,” says Giedd. “Now we see that’s not true, that the biology is very optimistic in a way. We can still change so much, certainly between 16 and 20, and I would even argue between 20 and 25.”

Opponents of SB 261 say that society should define who is a minor. “It creates some uncertainty and takes away that kind of bright line between juvenile and adult,” says Sean Hoffman, legislation attorney with the California District Attorneys Association. Hoffman also takes issue with the claim of zero recidivism among SB 260 parolees. Although hundreds of inmates have been released under the law in the past year without returning to criminal activity, he says “it’s too soon to assess the impact.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the state’s overcrowded prisons violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment—and ordered the inmate population to be reduced by 40,000. California has until February 2016 to do this.

“Gov. Brown has been using SB 260 as something showing how he can reduce the prison population in a thoughtful, carefully-considered way,” says Burrell. “It’s a win-win. It’s good for the prison system because they need to get rid of some inmates—because we need to run a constitutional system—and it’s good for the young people because it gives them the possibility of living their lives.”

It costs the state $62,000 a year to keep someone incarcerated, and most people first enter prison before the age of 25. SB 261 wouldn’t just help juvenile offenders or prison reductions, says Mendoza, it would also benefit the community. Given his past, he and others like him are in prime position to deter youth from the same choices he once made as a teenager.

“We have so many affluent areas here, and many of these people want to help out, but their idea of helping out is with funding or donations,” Mendoza says. “They’ll find any other way to deal with troubled children except interacting with them physically, because they’re scared. But people such as myself have no reservations—we are more than willing to go to the streets and talk to these kids, get our hands dirty.”


  1. You couldn’t have chosen a more ridiculous and misleading headline. The reality is that only the worst of the worst juvenile offenders serve any lengthy period of incarceration. To be tried as an adult, a juvenile has to have committed an especially serious violent crime or sexual offense. With regard to property crimes, including even residential burglary, all our current juvenile justice system is teaching these kids that they can continue committing these crimes with little risk of being sent away if they’re caught. The general public would be outraged if they knew how many times a juvenile can get caught stealing a car or breaking into a house without anything significant happening to them. As a 20 plus year SJPD veteran, I keep seeing the same kids over and over again. The idea of a “mass incarceration” of juveniles is fantasy.

    • Amen Pete!

      Juvenile offenders aren’t subject to much discipline with the way the justice system is currently configured. If anything, the current system of discipline almost encourages juveniles to commit as much non violent crime as they can prior to turning 18. In the relatively short time I’ve been a police officer, I’ve encountered plenty of habitual juvenile offenders who have almost no fear of being arrested.

      This article appears to be saying that long term incarceration of juveniles should be scaled down. After reading the article, I would argue that the time Michael Mendoza served not only saved his life, but effectively accomplished it’s intended goal of rehabilitating him…

    • > The general public would be outraged if they knew how many times a juvenile can get caught stealing a car or breaking into a house without anything significant happening to them.

      Well, I AM OUTRAGED!

      But, then, I must not be the general public.

    • It is thought that members of law enforcement unions subscribe to the tenets of The Prison Industrial Complex and therefore oppose early or in fact, any release of inmates as a threat to their own employment in a field known as “Corrections”.
      Learned violence in young people does not define them or their future. The main issue here is the lack of belief that we all deserve a second chance. That human lives can be redeemed. Amen? Pete?

      • Susan opined: “The main issue here is the lack of belief that we all deserve a second chance.” It may be an issue, but it’s not the main issue. And I don’t have a problem with a second chance for some folks, but not all. I wonder if Susan also believes that offenders deserve a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth…chance? That’s what far too many juvenile, and even adult, offenders get Susan. There are a couple of dozen programs at Elmwood. A study a few years back found that those who engaged in some of these programs had a lower 6 month re-arrest rate than those who did not. However, the one year re-arrest rate was virtually identical between those who took a program and those who didn’t. The plain fact is that people like Mr. Mendoza are quite rare; yet the Pollyannas like Susan continue to point to the very rare success story as if it were the norm. Take off those rose colored glasses, Susan, and dare to see the world of criminals as it really is. How about the recent murder of a woman in SF by a five time illegal alien (oh, excuse me, undocumented immigrant) felon, who had been deported five times, yet return to El Norte to commit a random murder.

      • “It is thought” by whom? The permanently clueless? Police officer and correctional officer are two very different jobs. If you’re way thinking had any validity, police unions would be in favor of everyone being set free, right? After all, more criminals on the street would mean more crime, and more crime would mean more police would be needed. Ridiculous. I’d also like to educate you about one other aspect of reality: not everyone deserves a second chance.

    • Mr. Malloy’s comments radiate a certain distaste for all criminal offenders, stereotyping the “typical” offender, at least in his eyes. Must be the 20 plus years working in the trenches. No one can fault him that. However, I am sure part of the reason for his becoming a police officer was to make the community safer. Despite his bottom up perspective of the legal system our elected politicians have decided to pass SB260 and maybe SB261. What Officer Malloy failed to communicate is SB260/SB261 were not written with the petty juvenile delinquent in mind. Rather, SB260/SB261 were written with the realization some of society’s youth commit especially heinous crimes. The law and Bill were drafted with the idea all youth have the potential to rehabilitate as they grow into adulthood. Notice, I wrote “potential .” That is because the law preserves the authority of the Executive Branch; allowing them to require youthful offenders to serve their entire lawful prison sentence should they not demonstrate rehabilitation. Officer Malloy is busy comparing apples to oranges.

      • Your reply has nothing at all to do with what I said. My point was that the idea that there has been a “mass incarceration” of juveniles, as expressed in the headline, is laughable. The opposite is actually true. I didn’t speak to the merits of either bill. Also, please explain how my comments “radiate a certain distaste for all criminal offenders…?”

        My actual belief, as opposed to what you’re proposing to advance your political agenda, is that the juvenile justice system is doing many of these kids a disservice by minimizing their actions. I recall one kid in particular who was picked up several times for residential burglaries and gun possession as a juvenile, but never seemed to suffer any consequences. He turned 18 and got caught doing the same things about a month later. He’s been locked up for the last two years. Maybe he might’ve had a better chance to alter his behavior as a juvenile if he’d learned that actions have consequences. Maybe he’s finally learning that lesson now.

        • The fact you focused so much energy on a headline is laughable. Thank you. Also, the Pew Trust has researched the very question of incarcerating youth and determined, “A growing body of research demonstrates that for many juvenile offenders, lengthy out-of-home placements in secure corrections or other residential facilities fail to produce better outcomes than alternative sanctions.” The opposite of your anecdotal argument.

          • There’s no doubt that experience in the real world should take a backseat to whatever conclusions have been reached by the formidable Pew Trust. Also, since this is a political issue, there’s zero chance of any “study” of the issues being skewed to obtain results favorable to the sponsor of the study.

            Just like there’s a prison industry, there’s also an industry of people seeking to make money by providing supposed rehabilitation. How much of a political issue this is has been demonstrated by people taking exception to my statement that there is no mass incarceration of juveniles. I never said that I oppose either of the assembly bills discussed in the article, but apparently the idea that the real world isn’t quite what the proponents of those measures want the public to believe it to be is too threatening, regardless of whether it’s the truth.

      • Mr. McPhee: you disapprove of Mr. Malloy’s “anecdotal evidence”, which comes from 20 years real world experience; but the anecdotal evidence of Mr. Mendoza (one guy out of 6,500 juvenile offenders who are incarcerated, and he’s been on the outside for but a short time) is fine with you. The bleeding hearts have come up with more proposals and programs to reduce recidivism than has the homelessness lobby to reduce homelessness, yet the recidivism rate has not declined. That fact speaks volumes.

        • Anecdotal evidence, JohnMichael. No bleeding hearts here. Check your facts on the rise of incarceration for all groups.

      • I am not sure how possessing a ‘certain distaste for all criminal offenders’ is even relevant to this issue. We are a society governed by laws and it is, indeed, the attempt to render fair and impartial application of laws which makes our society a just society. How is it, then, offensive that any person should radiate distaste for the commission of crime and those who commit crimes.

        What Mr. McPhee derisively describes as Mr. Malloy’s ‘bottom up perspective’ would more fairly be described as a ‘real world firsthand perspective’. That is to say that Mr. Malloy, in his two decades or so of experience in law enforcement has seen, literally tens of thousands of cases of criminalism and recidivism: something an astonishingly small percentage of the overall population can claim.

        While my experience in law enforcement is not so great as Mr. Malloy’s, it certainly echos his. And, it is my opinion that the criminal justice systems as it applies to juveniles is far too lax and accommodating. Of course, the same can also be said of the criminal justice system for adults. Too often, parents are left to deal on their own with children who have committed serious crimes such as auto theft, burglary, and assault, begging for resources – even begging to be able to leave their juvenile felons in the custody of Juvenile Hall. And you would not believe the lengths to which a police officer must go in order to actually ‘incarcerate’ a juvenile felon for even serious felonies.

        Part of the problem with the criminal justice system for both juveniles and adults is that there is very little in the way of consistent application of punishments. And, since study after study has shown that a criminal calculates risk/cost/benefit in a very different way from a regular person, they don’t tend to perceive as much in the way of risk to themselves as a consequence for committing crime. These calculations become all the more difficult to make for a potential criminal – or a recidivist, for that matter – to make when punishment and sentencing can be incomprehensible even for police officers.

        It is my belief that one of the most significant reforms we could make with respect to the criminal justice system would be to simplify the criminal code, and the system of punishments, so that there is less mystery associated with it.

        • Officer Anonymous, Pete Malloy, and friends,

          I, too, share a distaste for crime—I have survived crime and been witness to it. I would like to address several assumptions in your prior postings, though. First, Officer Anonymous writes “the attempt to render fair and impartial application of laws which makes our society a just society.” I am glad you write “attempt.” Given your background, you are probably aware that we only strive but do not succeed in such practice. Many examples exist, but here is a basic one: since 1976, the death penalty has been applied to cases when the victim has been white 77% of the time and Africa-American 15% of the time even though 50% of homicide victims are African-American. Americans are more likely to execute someone for killing a white person than a black person. Many more examples exist of unequal applications of the law, but I am attempting to be brief.

          Both Mr. Malloy and Officer Anonymous have worked as police officers. It is a very difficult job, and I appreciate the work of law enforcement. However, you have a particular set of experiences that provide you with only partial data on recidivism. You unfortunately have great contact with repeat offenders and are denied the opportunity of focusing on those who stop committing crime. Understandably, this informs your outlook, but it is not a complete picture. I began in 2003 volunteering teaching writing to incarcerated teenagers. I have taught about 1,000 classes since then and also worked with many youth and young adults after their release. I have worked with young people who have committed murder and sex offenses as well as those who have been members of gangs. Many, many have expressed profound remorse for their crimes, and many, many have grown to never commit a crime again. Many have become positive contributing members of our community. I have welcomed many into my home.

          Nevertheless, I am no different than you Mr. Malloy or Officer Anonymous—I am biased by my own experiences. I, too, have been deeply impacted by my experiences, which is why I left my job in private enterprise and went back to school at UCLA to get a PhD studying crime, incarceration, and re-entry. I have exhaustively read and researched these subjects, learning where my thinking was incorrect and attempting to improve what we as a society believe to be true. In this forum, I want to focus on the specific topic of criminal recidivism. In short, numerous studies with different populations and in different society’s have found that across all crimes people begin to desist from committing crime between the late teens and mid 20s. The exact peak varies based on crime and society and era, but people increasingly desist from committing crimes in this age range. By the time adults are in their 40s, very few still engage in criminal activity. In addition, after as little as 2 years (depends on the crime), the rate of criminal behavior for someone with a record is the same as someone with no criminal record. This is real world data compiled by such researchers as Bushway, Kurlychek, Sampson, Laub, and Farrington. Look any of them up and read. Some of this research was funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice. Some of this research was conducted during the Bush Administration.

          Officer Anonymous also writes that research indicates that people who commit crime conduct a cost/benefit analysis of their behavior in a different way than those who don’t. This is old research that has been debunked. More relevant is that the context in which one lives shapes available choices, behavior, and outcomes. For example, in the separate field of health, the person’s zip code where they are born is a more powerful predictor of their health than their genetic code. The mechanisms for that are complex as are understanding the causes of crime. The point is that the old way of thinking of locking people up and throwing away the key has not worked. We are all on this forum because of our dissatisfaction with crime and recidivism, but the old way of mass incarceration has not worked. For those who dispute whether we live in a society of mass incarceration, the United States locks up adults AND YOUTH at the greatest rate on the planet—more than Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, or any nation we demonize.

          It is easy to assume that an individual who committed a crime will commit another one, because we have numerous examples supporting this conclusion. It is also easy to assume that an individual police officer is corrupt or dangerous because we have many stories of police officers accepting bribes, looking the other way for certain people, or shooting unarmed (and often black) citizens. However, we know this would be erroneous thinking and unfair to the individual. Let’s be better on both fronts.

          Once again, I share your distaste for crime. I also have a distaste for unequal application of the law, injustice in all forms, and poor logic, incorrect information, and bias when addressing society’s problems. I am hopeful that SB261 and other reforms will pass so that we can dedicate our resources more effectively to making our communities safer while helping those who are ready to be positive and contributing members to society do so.

          • With regard to your death penalty statistics, I think a closer examination of those cases would be needed to determine whether the racial bias you claim actually exists. Typically, the death penalty is sought in only certain types of murder cases, such as murders committed in the course of robberies or rapes, or murders of police officers. I would think that these types of murders would be more likely to cross racial borders than other murders, which might account for some of the statistical disparity.

            It’s also typical that the death penalty is sought only in cases where the evidence is especially solid. Less solid cases, even if the act was heinous, are more likely to be settled for something less than the death penalty. We all know African Americans murdering other other African Americans is, sadly, far too common. I would submit to you that the murder of one gang member by another, or a murder which occurs in an inner city neighborhood where many do not want to become involved as witnesses, are much more likely to have proof problems that would preclude the death penalty.

            There is also the question of the types of jury pools that hear these cases and make decisions with regard to the death penalty. Is an inner city jury as likely as juries in more rural areas to vote for death?

            I agree with you that racial disparity in sentencing, if it truly existed for reasons relating only to the defendant’s race, would constitute injustice. No system is perfect. I was outraged at the recent case in which a privileged white teenager walked away with practically zero punishment after killing several people while drunk driving. I just don’t think the simple statistics you quoted prove your claim.

          • As I wrote, the death penalty example was brief. For more detail, read David Baldus and colleagues’ research, especially from 1998, in which they found from real life cases that black defendants were more likely to receive the death penalty than white ones when accounting for such factors as aggravating and mitigating factors as indicated by the juries. Recently, the research by Jennifer Eberhardt, who recently received a MacArthur genius award, found that people who simply perceived a defendant as being more stereotypically black were more likely to sentence that person to death–but only when they killed a white person.

            I saw that case where the privileged white kid received little punishment for killing people while drunk driving. I thought of all the black and brown kids who I have known who have received far harsher punishments for much less. In particular, I had recently been in court with an African-American teenager who had been found guilty of attempted murder and received 45 years to life. I will not defend what he had done and believe he owes society a debt. Despite what many may assume, that boy would agree that he was wrong and had a debt to pay. Nevertheless, no one died in the case with the African-American boy, and yet he potentially was not going to be even eligible for parole until he was 58 (with truth in sentencing laws). This is the reason for laws such as SB260 and 261. He already felt great remorse for his actions and had taken tangible steps to improve his behavior and actions while locked up. Yes, he needed to be held accountable for his actions and yes we need more evidence of last change from him, but no that does not mean he should be held in prisons until he is 58–at a minimum.

            In addition to those very real human costs, you and I are paying $60,000+ every year to keep him there. Everyone loses.

          • Part 2…I have no doubt that you have studied these issues extensively. In these comments, we have heard over and over again about how long it takes a human brain to fully develop. The research in this area seems to be the cornerstone of the arguments for 260 and 261. Yet there is no way of determining what role, if any, a lack of brain development played in any individual’s decision to take a life. You are therefore asking society to make exceptions to lawful sentences based upon a justification which is shaky, at best.

            Your comment also seems to ignore the idea that these sentences were imposed, in part, as punishment for especially despicable acts. Your primary concern may be “helping those who are ready to be positive and contributing members to society do so,” but I’m not as ready as you are to forget about punishment , especially without the ability to link a specific individual’s actions to the excuse you’re offering for those actions.

            Finally, I believe your subtle shot at police officers missed the mark. You wrote “It is easy to assume that an individual who committed a crime will commit another one, because we have numerous examples supporting this conclusion. It is also easy to assume that an individual police officer is corrupt or dangerous because we have many stories of police officers accepting bribes, looking the other way for certain people, or shooting unarmed (and often black) citizens. However, we know this would be erroneous thinking and unfair to the individual. Let’s be better on both fronts.”

            If you asserted that all police officers were corrupt because a few were proven to be, you’d be engaging in the same type of bias which I assume you deplore. Here, however, we’re not talking about condemning people for the acts of others who belong to the same group. We’re talking about people being held responsible for their own actions. There’s a bit of a difference there.

          • I appreciate you being open to an honest conversation without name calling or disrespect. In reading your Part 2, I don’t think you completely understand my perspective. First, if you review my comments, I never expressed that brain development past adolescence was an explanation for crime. I have read some of the research in this area, and I agree with you that it should not be applied in this domain (and even though the Supreme Court disagrees with us). I think we are just beginning to understand the brain but do not know enough to connect this early information to human behavior. Rather, I referenced data on real world behavior indicating that people commit less criminal actions as they age with the peak being in the late teens to early 20s. Many factors influence this process, and maturation could be one of them. I know I did all sorts of things in my teens and 20s that I would never do today. If you’ve raised kids or observed kids grow up, you’ve probably noticed maturation. This is part of the reason for SB 260 and now 261—we grow up and no longer engage in the same stupid behavior as when we were younger.

            Your comments indicate that you think I am making an “excuse” for criminal behavior. I am most certainly not. As my response above indicates, I believe that people who commit crimes need to take accountability for their actions. I do not believe, though, that someone has to be punished for the rest of their lives for most crimes if they do so. And I do not believe that 45 to life in prison (as described above) when no one was seriously hurt is the appropriate punishment. SB 260 and 261 provide for review by a parole board—citizens who are not known for being lenient—to consider all the available information, including the crime, the perpetrator’s age, and their 15-25 years of behavior since the crime, in determining whether the person should be found suitable for parole. Most have not been granted release at these hearings. These bills maintain accountability and public safety while reducing our prison population and granting a second chance for those who earn it.

            Finally, you make a good point in my comparison to police corruption and shootings. The parallel does not hold up exactly except when considering the facts of recidivism. Starting at 2 years post-release and depending on the crime, the rate of criminal behavior for those released is equal to those who have not been incarcerated. Therefore, to judge someone at that point as being more likely to commit a crime is inaccurate and ethically wrong. That is the same as judging any law enforcement officer as being corrupt just because they are law enforcement–it is inaccurate and wrong.

            Let me be clear: I believe in accountability for criminal behavior. I also believe in the human ability to grow. I’ve seen it with the exact population we are discussing (I was just teaching in a juvenile detention facility tonight), and much evidence in research supports it. I recognize that not everyone evolves as quickly as we’d like, which is why a parole board reviews on a person by person basis with SB 260 and 261. If you’re ever in LA, I’d be happy to introduce you to some formerly incarcerated people who exemplify the ability to become positive and contributory citizens who make our community better.

          • I think you are the only one of the pro-260/261 commenters who is being completely honest. I can certainly respect the general view that people should be given a second chance, even if I would probably offer that second chance far less frequently than you would. I even agree that a 45 to life sentence imposed on a juvenile for a crime where no one was physically hurt seems excessive. i think the goal of these bills is/was to shorten sentences and provide more second chances. The brain research that has been cited incessantly here is simply an attempt to offer a supposed scientific basis for that desire that I don’t think holds water.

            Where we differ, I think, is the extent to which we believe punishment should be a component of sentencing, and the level of risk to which we think the public should be exposed. Some here have said that the death of one innocent person at the hands of one of these early parolees would be outweighed by the good which would come from offering early second chances. I can’t agree with that. When it comes to the worst of the worst, I err on the side of punishment and protection of society. I mentioned earlier the one call in my career that I can honestly say shocked me: when an 85 year-old woman whispered to me that she’d been raped by the two teenagers that broke into her house. I don’t care if those two are locked away forever, regardless of whatever personal strides they may appear to make in custody.

            It sounds like you do a lot of good with your life, and I commend you for it. but I think you, like many, might have the misconception that cops see only the bad. I have also met many people who have left crime behind. I’ve talked to a lot of older guys who shake their heads as they see the younger members of their family heading down the same wrong road they once did. I know that involvement in crime, on average, tends to wane as people age…but that’s just an average.

            Keep up the good work. I’m sure you are helping many of these kids, most of whom aren’t the worst of the worst. Almost all do deserve second chances, and they’ll get them. Although we do have significant differences in how we view things, we also share much common ground.

        • Officer anonymous, with all due respect you have expressed your opinion and I applaud your effort. Black and white thinking has gotten us in this predicament. So no sir, it’s time to be smarter on crime rather than stupid. So have a nice day.

    • I understand your out rage but the pedulum is swinging from your right handed tough on crime belief that your 20 + years has sern to a more humane view on reform and second chances. We no longer live in a world where people believe children murders are being breeded… People need hope and sb 261 will bring hope to over 16000 prisoners…

      • FINFAN all you have to do is accept the information… no response necessary. I find it amusing that to all the comments you could have responded to you chose to try and belittle Ms. Sobel. Clearly, A very articulate and intelligent young lady that seems to actually be informed on this discussion of juveniles tried as adults. You continue to divert the point taking away from our conversation with your simple and ridiculous view on this topic. You have involved our soldiers in an attempt to validate your argument and failed and then you attempted to berate a Law student who is trying to enlighten you? In addition, What does adolescent girls sexual behavior have to do with this conversation? Honestly, You are a poor excuse for an intellect and I hope you consider the way you have represented yourself on this strand. Please do some research! click the link provided then read and listen more and actually form an educated opinion on this topic. Thank you.

    • I know you are not troubled by facts Pete. Your decisions are clearly based on your own rules, perceptions, biases and they are clearly driven by anger and resentment. It is sad that somehow you believe the fact that you wear a badge gives you some extraordinary insight and credibility into this issue. Your comments are devoid of fact and full of bias and emotionally fueled resentment. It might be time to retire. I know I might feel our children are safer if you did. In case you ever want to consider the facts in between beers, here are some:

      Alonza Thomas were a kid today, he might not have ended up serving 13 years in an adult prison.

      Thomas committed an armed robbery in 2000 at age 15, shortly after California had tightened its laws against juvenile offenders. The initiative was part of a wave of harsh new laws passed nationwide, aimed at striking back against an anticipated wave of juvenile “superpredators” — remorseless kid criminals.

      No one was harmed in the robbery, and Thomas was a first-time offender. But under the new law, Proposition 21, he would be tried as an adult and sentenced to hard time. Facing as many as four decades in prison, Thomas pleaded guilty, lowering his sentence to 13 years, which he would serve in adult prison.

      By the time Thomas went to prison, the superpredator scare had been debunked. Juvenile arrest rates peaked in 1997 and have been dropping ever since. Meanwhile, state juvenile facilities and even adult prisons were filling up with kids, straining state budgets and raising serious human-rights concerns.

      That is starting to change. In the last six or seven years, states have begun to consider new approaches to juvenile offenders, backed by research showing that incarceration actually increases the chances a young person will commit another crime.

      That data has been piling up for years. But states recently have been spurred to act in large part by budget shortfalls amid the recession, and a string of state and federal court decisions objecting to harsh sentencing for young people.

      There’s another factor: Crime overall has gone down. After peaking in 1997, the juvenile arrest rate had dropped 48 percent by 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. That’s made reform easier to sell politically, making the issue a win on both sides of the political spectrum.

      Between 1997 and 2011, 46 states reduced their rate of commitments for juveniles.

      “There is a more general movement,” explained Delbert Elliott, an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado who studies juvenile crime. “We are past the mentality of, ‘You do an adult crime, you do adult time.’”

      The Courts Step In

      The juvenile justice landscape has been reshaped in part by a trio of Supreme Court decisions, starting in 2004.

      That year, in Roper v. Simmons, the court abolished capital punishment for crimes committed by juveniles. In 2010, the court decided in Graham v. Florida that states cannot impose mandatory life sentences on juveniles convicted of crimes other than homicide. Two years later, in Miller v. Alabama, it expanded on that ruling, declaring mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of any crime to be unconstitutional.

      “What Roper and Graham and Miller said explicitly was that kids are not adults. Children are different,” said Barry Feld, a juvenile law professor at the University of Minnesota and a leading expert on juvenile justice. The courts drew on research showing that adolescent brains aren’t fully developed — particularly when it comes to emotion and decision-making.

      The court decisions, he said, “put the onus on the states now for how to respond to young offenders who are convicted and sentenced in criminal court.” The Miller decision overturned mandatory sentencing policies in 28 states.

      But state responses have been mixed. Two years later, only 13 have passed new legislation to bring their laws into compliance with the ruling, according to an analysis by The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit dedicated to criminal justice reform. Those states still require young people to serve long sentences, from 25 to 40 years, before they have a chance at parole. Even those sentences, some reform advocates argue, are far too long to be in compliance with the court’s rulings. On Dec. 15, the Supreme Court said that it would take up a new case, Toca v. Louisiana, to determine whether the Miller ruling should be applied retroactively.

      Some states have also been forced into changing they way they deal with juveniles by state or federal court rulings. Violent or abusive conditions in juvenile justice systems have been documented in 22 states and Washington D.C. since 2000, according to an analysis by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which helps states reform their juvenile justice programs. In each case, the lawsuits demonstrated “systemic or recurring failure to protect youth from serious psychical or psychological harm,” such as physical and sexual abuse by staff and other inmates, and the overuse of solitary confinement and restraints.

      A Cheaper Alternative

      As the recession cramped state budgets, many departments began looking for ways to reduce the costs of juvenile incarceration in their state. A new study by the Justice Policy Institute found that 33 states and jurisdictions spend $100,000 or more annually to incarcerate one young person. By comparison, it costs only about $10,000 a year to send them to public school.

      Since 2005, 23 states have taken steps to keep juveniles out of adult prisons, such as raising the age of criminal responsibility and coming up with alternatives to large detention facilities, according to research by the Campaign for Youth Justice.

      New York, for example, began to reform its juvenile justice system in 2011. The state was struggling with budget shortfalls, and its juvenile system was a mess. More than 60 percent of juveniles who had been locked up re-offended, and some facilities were under investigation by the Justice Department for their brutal conditions, according to a report on the reforms.

      The state set up a task force to implement reforms, including a program to keep young offenders in their own communities rather than sending them to facilities upstate, and focus on their education, mental health and substance abuse problems. Since then, the number of youth in state custody has been cut by 45 percent. Juvenile arrests have also declined.

      This year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on lawmakers to raise the state’s age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.

      Tough-on-crime states are also implementing reforms. In 2013, the Texas legislature moved to keep kids in smaller facilities closer to home instead of large state-run facilities, where reports of abuse were rampant. The state also passed two laws in 2013 intended to curb the prosecution of kids for offenses in school — such as disrupting a class or bringing in tobacco — cut the number of children in adult court by 83 percent.

      Kentucky passed a package of new reforms this year that allows officials in schools and courts to work with young people caught up for minor offenses, linking them with social services rather than routing them through the criminal system. As FRONTLINE reported earlier this year, the state found that it was locking up kids at high rates even as the juvenile crime rate went down, draining half of its juvenile justice budget. And 13 percent of the cases were offenses for which adults can’t be punished — like skipping school. Officials who spearheaded the reforms have said they hope to intervene in young people’s lives while they still have a chance to turn their lives around.

      “The Way the System Operates”

      In some ways, the change hasn’t been as deep as it seems. There are fewer young people locked up today — 6,000 in adult prisons and roughly 70,000 in juvenile facilities, according to federal data, down from roughly 100,000 youth incarcerated in all facilities in 1997, when arrest rates peaked. But the reforms haven’t had nearly the same impact on minority teens, in particular African-American and Latino youth.

      At the height of the mass incarceration era, the arrest rate for white youth was a little over 7,400 per 100,000, compared to 14,300 for black youth, according to the National Center for Juvenile Justice. Today, with juvenile arrest rates cut in half, the arrest rate for black youth is 8,400 per 100,000 — still greater than what it was for white youth back then.

      “You can’t understand the way the system operates without understanding these differences, and the idea that we have this kind of disparity,” said Nate Balis, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s juvenile justice strategy group, which works with states to implement reforms.

      Studies have found that from the schools to the court system, black and Latino youth are much more likely to be dealt with harshly than white youth who commit the same crimes. They are more likely to be disciplined in school, even as preschoolers, and administrators are much more likely to involve law enforcement when minority students act out. Once in the juvenile system, blacks and Latinos are more likely to be transferred to adult court and incarcerated than whites who commit similar crimes. The disparity may even extend to hue: One study found that darker-skinned girls were punished more severely than lighter-skinned ones.

      The federal government set up a program this year to help school administrators begin to erode racial bias. The Justice Department has also started to target individual jurisdictions where its investigators have found patterns of racial bias. In 2012, the government signed a consent decree with a major county in Tennessee, after finding that even controlling for other factors, African-American children were treated more harshly in the juvenile justice system. The deal requires the county to submit to widespread reforms, including revising its policies on how it treats kids in the system and consider more often alternatives to detention.

      A year later, the department signed a similar agreement with the school district in Meridian, Miss., where the government found black students received harsher punishments and longer suspensions than white students who misbehaved in similar ways. The deal requires the district to provide clear guidelines and training on disciplinary policies for teachers and staff, and set up a system to track progress.

      • Mr. Brady informs us that “Juvenile arrest rates peaked in 1997 and have been dropping ever since.” This is in direct contradiction to the article that started this conversation, which speaks of the current “mass incarceration” of juveniles. He goes on to tell us that “Juvenile arrest rates peaked in 1997 and have been dropping ever since.” Who are we to believe?

        • JMO … write the Editor and share with him to change your headlines. You missed the boat, sir.

  2. It’s been well known by gang leaders for a few decades that having a juvenile commit a violent crime for the gang is the best way to go. It’s a win-win for the gang, and for the juvenile, who gets his street cred. It’s also true that it was and is very difficult to get the overwhelmingly liberal California judges to authorize trying a juvenile as an adult. If Mr. Mendoza was tried as an adult for a crime he committed as a 15 year old, the circumstances of the crime must have been heinous and Mr. Mendoza’s criminal involvement must have been significant. But of course Ms. Kandil purposely left all of that out of her sob story about Mr. Mendoza and other violent juvenile offenders. Like many left leaning reporters, Ms. Kandil makes the mistake of believing that violent criminals think just like we do; and well meaning folks like Chaplain Dave Robinson live in a Pollyanna world of hope springs eternal. AB260 took effect January 1, 2014. So any meager statistics that Ms. Burrell—an advocate for these violent youths—cares to throw out are close to meaningless. Cons have been conning parole boards for over a century. Under AB260, they are just younger, but no less savvy, cons. And now we have pediatric neuroscientists in the mix with their pseudo-science. Pass a law that makes pediatric neuroscientists who recommend parole personally liable for the damage done by someone they recommended be released, and they’ll scurry into the walls and basements with their pie in the sky theories. Every once in a while we hear about some small town bully (usually in a Southern state) who gets killed by a group of irate citizens who have had enough of this as*hole’s violence. “He needed killin’,” they say privately. Despite what all the dreamy liberals say, some folks just need killin’, and other folks just need to be incarcerated until they are too old to do any harm. At the end of the day, I’d bet the farm that for every poster boy reformed hoodlum that Ms. Kandil, Ms. Burrell, and Mr. Robinson can roll out with a “success story” missing many salient negative facts, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of violent youthful offenders who will re-offend. To Ms. Kandil I say: watch the movie “American Me.” It remains to this day the most accurate portrayal of the street/prison gang life. So, Josh, is Ms. Kandil a replacement for the naïve bleeding heart Ms. Wadsworth, or is she an addition to that stable?

    • Mendoza’s involvement was being present, not helping after the fact and charged as an aider and abetter. He was not the shooter. If you believe that a 15 year old that is present for a murder should spend the rest of his life in prison, you may need to look deep inside and figure out why you’re so angry. As conservatives, it is a fiscal and human waste to incarcerate someone who has turned his life around and wasn’t the main perpetrator in the crime. He’s now a student at Sac State giving back to kids. That’s how you lower crime. I believe in redemption. I believe in second chances. I believe in public safety and accountability. And I believe in Mr Mendoza.

      • Never assume that a story written to promote the nobility of someone like this accurately portrays the extent their involvement in the crime. I’m sure police or prosecutors could have provided a little more detail than the one paragraph summary offered by the writer. The fact that you happen to be riding in the same car as the shooter, by itself, wouldn’t result in a murder conviction.

        • You’re wrong. Riding in the car is felony murder. Check the law. About half the minors facing life without the possibility of parole were not even the trigger person.

        • Pete Malloy, I know the case as I do a lot of work with the parole board. Mendoza’s culpability is very low in comparison to the majority of cases.
          Also please note that the the California Chiefs of Police for possibly one of the first times in history, are neutral on SB261. Why? Because they have seen the success of SB260 and they know that hope + a thoughtful parole process after decades in prison, is smart public safety policy.

  3. Considering the success of SB 260, it would be foolish to not pass SB 261 for more reforms that will benefit society.

    The U.N. correctly criticizes the U.S. for the way we handle juvenile justice. We must find a way to break the school-to-prison pipeline that causes such misery for the young people convicted and for the victims of their crime. Not only does it ruin salvageable lives, it is a huge drain on taxpayers. Are kids in the U.S. more evil than kids in other countries, or do we just have more prison profiteers?

    There are millions of people locked up in the U.S. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world! The prisons are obviously failing as we also have the highest recidivism rate in the world, +76%. The recidivism rate for those released per SB 260 is ZERO. There are twelve million people in this country with “records” that have paid their debt per our laws but who often cannot find work or places to live and cannot even vote. (The Revolutionary War was fought over taxation without representation.) It is estimated that 80,000 people are in the torture of solitary confinement that actually drives prisoners insane. Solitary confinement is even worse for juveniles whose brains are not yet developed per scientists using precise instruments and scientific methods.

    Please contact your legislators and Governor Brown asking for support of SB 261 that will save salvageable lives and lots of tax dollars. It’s easy. Just search for something like, “how to contact your representative / California Governor Brown”.

  4. I’m all broken up here, so Charley Manson and the girls just need some love and understanding and they will all turn out like Patty Hearst!

    Some 30% of California’s prison population is comprised of people who committed another crime before, during, or after they arrived here illegally. We could certainly reduce that $65,000 cost if we could deport them at parole time if their home country would take them back.

    I’m sure they would be much better treated back home because the recidivism rate is so much lower in those country’s.

    I don’t suppose you have any statistic’s to tell us what the recidivism rate coming is back across our southern border to that terrible, uncivilized, brutal, racist, USA ?

    I’m sure they will be back as fast as they can hop our mighty fence for another round of understanding!

    In the mean time “Good American Kids” should go to the end of the unemployment line, oops the employment line.
    What does that teach them?

    • I am an undocumented Mexican, I came at the age of six and recently became a U.S resident. I was just 6 years old when I settled in Los Angeles, I didn’t choose to be here but i guess I was destine to. I lived a destructive lifestyle all my adolescence because I was lost. I had limited access to resources because of my illegal status and ultimately because I was part of the lower income communities in the urban areas of LA. Yes, I was a bad person. Yes, I did bad things. Yes, I was just 15-17 years of age and didn’t even had an idea of what life or my purpose in life really ment. Yes, I’m one of those Mexicans that Trump mention. I just didn’t bring no drugs and crimes to America. Los Angeles was the root to how I molded into a once gang member, not Mexico. America made me who I am and that’s why I love this country. Today, I’ve been out of the juvenile justice system for close to two years already and during the past several months I have experience the most amazing things in my life. I have shifted my life completely and have witness other youths do the same. You and all the other ignorant people who comment negatively about our troubled youth in this article have no clue, idea, credibility, and common sense about the harsh realities that exist in communities YOU don’t live in. I am currently working at a Chambet of Commerce, attending college full time, and is an activist. I am doing great, probably even better than the average youth my age. There are many of us that upon release, we reach success to another level. Yet, you don’t hear this sucessful stories though. I just want you and all the ignorants out there to start exploring this issue. The solution is not simply sending them to their native country or to just throw them in jail. Have some moral sense! How is it that you talk about young children that way, I would love to talk to you all in person. I bet ill change your political views on this issue!
      -Kent Mendoza
      Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)

      • While I applaud your success at reforming your life, your comments simply serve to reinforce part of Mr. Trump’s point:

        You and those who brought you to the US were NOT entitled to be in the US. You cheated the system and leapfrogged literally millions of people who are/were in similar situations and yet have/had the integrity to adhere to the law – or at least who did not have the benefit of a geography more convenient to the act of illegal immigration. (I have no doubt that if it was North Koreans who lived adjacent to the US, we would have vastly more Korean illegal immigrants than Hispanic, for example.)

        You did not have access to resources, etc because you had no legal right to those resources. The only legal rights to which you and those who brought you were entitled was lawful arrest followed by a speedy trial, sentencing, and – ultimately – deportation. Which are, basically, the same rights that you would have if you were an illegal immigrant in Mexico, by the way.

        You say that Mexico did not make you what you are/were; LA did. Respectfully, I disagree. A big part of what made you the person you are/were is the sense of entitlement of those who brought you here illegally. Entitlement to break the laws of a sovereign nation and to rationalize it by asserting that YOUR desire for a better life is more important than the equivalent desire of the literally millions of other people who are trying to emigrate legally. Regardless of the percentages with respect to those who become a criminal element vs. those who choose to obey all the other laws *with the exception of immigration law*, the fundamental common attitude is that of entitlement and capriciousness – that they all are entitled to break the laws of a sovereign nation – daily and repeatedly – and that respect for the law can rightfully be measured against what is comfortable and convenient. And, guess what? In that respect, illegal immigrants are no different from any other kind of criminal. The attitude is the same. And, while at the age of six years, you may not have been able to make the choice to obey immigration law or not, over time you certainly knew your status and were raised in that same mentality of entitlement and capriciousness.

        If you had any interest in a correct or fair application of the law – if you had a true and genuine respect for the law, you would have returned to Mexico and applied to emigrate lawfully, just like millions of others who don’t have the benefit of contiguous geography to facilitate their illegal immigration, and just like millions of others who possess a more consistent and ethical view of the law.

        However much you might believe you are becoming some kind of success story, the reality is that on a much greater level your ongoing presence in the US and that of, literally, millions of other criminals classed as illegal – I’m sorry: ‘undocumented’ – immigrants is an obscene and glaring testament to the failings of America’s immigration and criminal justice systems.

        This is not a ‘political’ issue, but one of reason and of practicing a consistent respect for the laws of a sovereign nation.

  5. Where, among the many liberal voices supporting this program, are those calling for a racially proportionate selection process? After all, this program represents the first truly feasible opportunity for the government to engage in representative treatment. Why aren’t the “justice seekers” demanding this program conform to the race demographics of the state, as they so loudly do when complaining about the race of people stopped and/or arrested by police? What happened to big-mouth LaDoris and her campaign for proportion?

    The answer, of course, is that the real commitment of these liberal crusaders is not to the colorblind application of the law but to winning special treatment for people of their choosing and secure for themselves the political power to dictate the results of everything from justice to education to economics. They know that demographic proportion is a crock, but they also know that, with the support of morons in office and the media, they can dupe the increasingly gullible majority. They are aware that were their phony politics of proportion applied to the parole process it would require the paroling of 12 whites and 7 Hispanics to justify the release of 1 African-American prisoner. And given the significant underrepresentation of white teenagers involved in thuggery, the use of a proportional selection process would undermine the true intent of this program, which is the liberation of black and Hispanic felons.

    • “…given the significant underrepresentation of white teenagers involved in thuggery…” You’re joking, right? (One word for you: drugs.) That’s hilarious as are your conspiracy theories. Disproportionality is real and you know it, but correcting it scares you sh*tless for some reason. May want to dig deeper into that…

      • Do you having anything to say about the racial disproportionality of those committing violent crimes? Or is that an aspect of reality that you try to avoid?

        • Why don’t you review what the “racial disproportionality of those committing violent crimes” are Pete Malloy?

        • Pete Malloy, why don’t you review what the rates of “racial disproportionality of those committing violent crimes” are? Then please explain why that is important to you.

  6. “And now we have pediatric neuroscientists in the mix with their pseudo-science.” It frightens me to hear folks in the juvenile justice world dismiss SCIENCE. Juveniles think and behave differently, especially those who live with and are raised in trauma. To ignore that is ignorant and foolish and serves no one, keeps no one safe.

    No comment on the weak, BS racism in these posts. If you can’t recognize our shared humanity, GTFO.

    • Putting the word “science” or “scientist” in your resume makes you infallible, at least to Marie and those of her ilk. Scientists form a hypothesis, which they then attempt to validate. The fact that a scientist propounds a hypothesis doesn’t make it a fact, except to Marie and those of her ilk. At this stage of its development, neuroscience is little more than a hypothesis, an unproven theory as it relates to career criminals. These “scientists” have defined the issue, and can validate some of their findings, such as kids from violent homes often become violent adults. On the other hand, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure that one out. Ask the neuroscientists what the cure is and you’ll get a blank stare and some stammering argot. Ask them to take personal liability if one of their charges reoffends and damages someone, and they’ll bolt from the room faster than the speed of light.

  7. According to the article more than 6,500 offenders are eligible under the current law and several hundred have already been released. Of that population “there hasn’t been a single incident of recidivism among several hundred SB 260 parolees.”

    First, this represents less than 10% of the eligible population. Second, this group is surely the cream of the crop and has only been out for at maximum 1.5 years and probably much less. Finally, when the Stanford group that lobbied for Three Strikes reform did a follow up study of Prop 36 releasees they defined recidivism in terms of new convictions not arrests or parole violations. How is this group defining recidivism? Time will tell, but to say that the cherry picked candidate for SB 260 is not unusual is ignoring some pretty significant facts.

  8. Marie,

    Your inability to recognize the difference between a young person who beats, robs, and murders (a thug) and a young person who uses illegal drugs puts you in conflict with state and federal laws, Webster’s Dictionary, public opinion, common sense, and, obviously, me. That you have convinced yourself that this mountain of evidence is the result of a conspiracy marks you as a member in good standing of the mindless liberal herd, and just one more example of the pathetic state of our educational system.

  9. In every other aspect of their lives we tell them they are not “ready for the responsibility of being an adult” because their brain is not developed enough yet. Because they’re a kid. Because they’re too young. But when a young person expresses unabashed, uncontrolled, anger/hatred, lack of self control, they’re all of a sudden an adult. Forget science, our own recidivism rate of over 60% tells us that mass incarceration does not work. If you are a parent, you know that if you just punish and punish and punish your children, without teaching them how to make better decisions in their lives, you will fail as a parent. We are the only country in the world that sees those who commit crimes as “them” and NOT part of our community. That’s ugly.
    Nothing will change until we realize that we are all connected to one another and need each other to be successful if we are going to succeed as a nation. Our current approach is sending us lower on the totem pole of success in the world.
    None of us want to be “thrown away” for any one decision. If you read the story, Michael Mendoza was not that kid who came back in the hall time and again. But the fact that more than 60% of kids who do get arrested, come back, says we suck at making a difference or rehabilitation as the title of the department claims. It’s not science, it’s math. The number of kids who recidivate tells us that mass incarceration does not work.
    Consequences with rehabilitation and a chance at getting it right is the approach we should take with our children.
    Call it liberal, kumbaya-ism all you want. It is truth.
    Only Love can eliminate Hate. Fact.

    • CLB,

      Are you equating youth being arrested to “incarceration?” Simply being arrested and booked into Juvenile Hall is not necessarily incarceration. It takes a lot for Juvenile Hall to actually accept a youth offender for booking, let alone house them for any considerable length of time. The last time they took a Juvenile arrestee of mine, they were on the fence about it, and this kid was 17, on probation, and I had arrested him for committing a gang related felony while he was in possession of a felony level weapon.

      I’ve been turned away from Juvenile Hall with kids who were on probation with gang orders and arrested for crashing a stolen car while under the influence of alcohol & marijuana.

      I’m not saying that incarcerating juvenile offenders, even as temporary as a few days, is the answer in every situation, but it is nowhere near as wide spread as the general public may think. It’s not like these kids are getting shipped off to the ranch for ditching school and stealing a case of beer.. It takes a considerable offense and/or a well established pattern of criminal activity for juveniles to end up “incarcerated.”

    • CLB opines: “…our own recidivism rate of over 60% tells us that mass incarceration does not work.” What it tells me is that their sentence for offense #2 was too short. They offend, they are sentenced, they get out, and they reoffend. It’s almost as predictable as the sunrise. So, CLB, we should let them out again to commit crime #3, #4, etc.? A recent study of Elmwood prisoners concluded that the one-year re-arrest rate was statistically identical for those prisoners who completed one of its rehabilitation programs as for those who did not. And those were low risk prisoners, supposedly the easiest to “rehabilitate.” The one in a hundred is who folks like CB, Marie, and Susan seize on to “prove” their point. Yet, we keep paying folks to lead those same ineffective programs. That brings up the well known definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. The plain fact is, that at least among the American prison population, rehabilitation programs are almost totally ineffective. Only light can eliminate darkness is a fact, CB. Only love can eliminate hate is Kumbayaism.

  10. I’m always fascinated by the law and its’ obvious inconsistencies. The law states a minor girl engaging in sex with even an 18 year old, is not mature enough to make decisions, and therefore the over 18 party goes to jail. But if an older gang member, coerces a minor to commit a crime, all of a sudden the law flips and states that minor is mature enough to make decisions and can be tried as an adult! I have watched the minor male in a case get 26 years and the two adults who coerced him get 8 years. Unbelievable. As for the comments of those who really do not understand, nor do they choose to understand, I am sure that when 911 happened they were the first to say “c’mon America” they can’t do that to us – let’s go get the enemy!” Revenge is a common theme in Hollywood movies. Murder someone’s family and watch the renegade seek revenge – and these movies are box office hits. But if gang kids, involved in real street wars seek revenge, they are portrayed as monsters. Why the flip America? Speaking of movies, I remember when the young actress from Poltergeist was murdered violently by her own boyfriend, an adult who dragged her from her front porch until he killed her in her driveway…and he got 6 years. I know gang kids who did not commit murder get 120 years. Such hypocrisy and profiling exists and we demand this ends. We all want to stop gang violence, no one is condoning it. But I’m ashamed that my country bases its’ judicial system on revenge and not rehabilitation. I’m ashamed my country incarcerates more juveniles, heck we incarcerate more people than any other country in the world! I feel sorry for all the people who do not understand and spew such hateful negativity and where their negativity actually comes from. Those of us directly involved and have studied and met youth involved in the system are best to comment because it comes from a place of factual evidence, and not political, racist, or misinformed.

  11. In light of the state of the world, which seems to be in never ending war, it is refreshing to read articles like this which highlight a movement towards the recognition of redemption, the recognition that a young brain is NOT the same as fully developed adult brain, and the recognition that it is just plain financially smart to pass bills like SB260 and SB261.
    There are so many other ways to use state funding besides locking up people for stuff they did as children. Multiple studies by various prestigious universities have, for years now, demonstrated the difference in the functioning of a young brain, ages 20 and under, compared to an adult brain; and all results illustrate that a young brain has less control over impulses due to an actively developing frontal lobe; and this does not include brains of children who have been severely traumatized who have additional barriers to brain development which I won’t get in to.
    Unfortunately approximately 99% of juvenile detainees have suffered some form of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and/or neglect leading to impaired brain development. And that is not an opinion. That is a fact. Every human brought into this world is done so needing a very specific amount of basic needs met and a specific amount of love, guidance, and nurturance. All of the social scientists have studied this and agree upon this well known fact (for an example see Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs). When basic needs are neglected, there is a high chance that eventually, people will look to fulfill those needs wherever they can, whether it be in gangs, drugs, or hell, in the military.
    I am appalled, saddened and outraged to read all the racist, xenophobic, and ignorant comments on here, but one thing I am not, is surprised.
    “…let he who is without sin…” For those that doubt people can change, can be redeemed, look at yourself and tell me you are the same person you were when you were 5, 10, 14, 17, 20, 28…I guarantee you, you are not. I guarantee you did stuff and thought stuff when you were 14 or 17 that you would never even consider thinking about doing at 30, 35 or 40. Why? Because your brain had a chance to develop! And you are a completely different person now. I know that these individuals who are given a chance to redeem themselves will do so just like the rest of us who happened to never get caught for doing dumb sh*t.


    • Yo, teacher! What and where do you teach, so that we may all keep our children safe from your ignorance? What Bible did you read? You got the Joseph thing backwards—he killed no-one. His brothers plotted to kill him, but one relented and threw him down a well, from which he was later rescued and ultimately became a vizier in Egypt. If you were thinking of Cain, who killed his brother Abel, God threw him out of Eden to the Land of Nod, as I recall. There is no evidence in the Bible that Cain ever sat next to God. I am a non-believer, and I know more about the Bible than you do. You’re not even a good student, so how is it that you are a teacher? Oh, stop shouting, too.

  13. I find it interesting that the first two posts on this article were from law enforcement, thanks guys for self identifying and assisting the lawyers who will have to defend the children you are hunting. Law Enforcement Professionals who cannot tell the difference between children and adults are, by definition a part of the problem and need to be removed from the equation as soon as possible.

    To the gentleman would have us discard the “psudo-science” coming out of our top universities… Sir, your arguments would carry a lot more weight if you :
    A) had some evidence other than -because I said so
    B) Knew the difference between a Senate Bill (SB) and an Assembly Bill (AB) (not a typo, ya did it twice)
    C) had even a basic understanding of the history, misadventures, intellectual cowardice, and political maneuvering that got us to this juncture in the first place.

    There are plenty of real and reasoned arguments to be made without having to create them out of whole cloth; however starting off with the point of view that “The idea of a ‘mass incarceration’ of juveniles is fantasy”, is just plain bad scholarship. It is called a GOOGLE search Sir… Use it!

    The debate around juvenile justice reform comes down to the same things it always does: Science, Money, Fear, Morality, Vengeance-v-Justice.
    The science is really only in debate now among the tinfoil helmet crowd. FMRI is pretty clear and this particular ship as long since sailed. The Juvenile brain is different – Period.

    Money is on the side angles for once. It turns out that money spent on education is a better bargin for public safety than money spent on incarceration… by a 5-1 margin! Granted, this is according to those stalwart lefty’s… You know… The Koch Brothers, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, and the a couple of dozen chambers of comerce… *GASP*… Those darn pinkos!

    Fear and Morality are tied together. When we started down this odessy 1 in 27 Californians knew someone who had been iunder some form of correctional control in the last year. It was easy to lock up “those people” because they were other than “us”. Now that mass-incarceration has done it’s job, we are somewhere around 1 in 3… Now we are not just lock up “those people”, we are locking up Jack, and Tina, Jose and Trayvon. It is a lot harder to allow fear to harden your heart against morality when you are taking action against the kid whose first name you know.

    Justice-v.-Vengence…. Therein lies the rub. We oscillate between states of outrage and sanity in the struggle to find a middle ground. Frankly, I would be happy if we as a people simply recognized the difference between the two.

    So here we are, the pendulum somewhere at the beginning of the down swing, and sanity returning; however, it is important to remember that we based the entire upswing on a hue and cry around “superpredators” and sensationalized social panic. Being aware of this is the only way to guard against repeating it. Ultimately, we must bear in mind that we as a culture tell ourselves that our children are not responsible enough to drive, or sign a contract. Nor can they drink or serve in the armed forces. They cannot run for office nor can they even cast a ballot… NOR SHOULD THEY! They are children, they are, by definition, not responsible adults. Us being mad at their behavior doesn’t suddenly make them more responsible, it only makes us cold.

    • Have you ever personally met any of the poor “children” that you’re so self-importantly lecturing us about? Have you spoken with any teenaged murderers or rapists? Have you been to any of their homes? In other words, do you have any personal knowledge about a subject about which you seem to consider yourself an expert?

      • Actually sir, I am quite familiar with these children. I work for an agency that helped pass the bill that freed Mr. Mendoza, and a couple of hundred others. In fact, I am friends with Mike and count myself lucky to know him, and privileged to know several dozen others who have been freed under SB260. The author of this bill is a board member of the agency I work for, and she is a dear friend, mentor, and hero of mine and I thank God Above every day that I am allowed to breathe the same air as these luminaries. I know that this is not what you were expecting, but just so that you are aware, I am, in fact, as intimately tied to this community as one can possibly be.

        Right about now you are writing me off as a liberal activist. You are half right, I am an Activist, but I am no liberal. In fact, I am a libertarian. I believe in a small but sane government that respects its citizenry as much as its laws and one that understands that the context of a crime matters as much as the content of a police report.
        I agree with the staff of my agency on pretty much nothing else, but on this issue they have the right of it.

        Sir there is no need to feel defensive or insulted. I am not now, nor will I ever attack you personally; however, the ideas and line of reasoning you represent have outlived their usefulness. That the juvenile brain is different is simply no longer in debate. It possess a unique ability to change, grow, and adapt. We call this process “maturation”. The intellectual underpinning of the mass incarceration of juveniles stems from the, long since debunked, “superpredator” scare and it is time that we stopped embarrassing ourselves on the international stage, with our backwards thinking. The fact that some children have developed maladaptavie behavior patterns in the early stages of the maturation process is not emblematic of them being “bad seeds”, rather it results from our cultures failure to cope with the competing stress of a rapidly developing society. There are hundreds of theories as to why America has such a youth violence problem, but literally none of them begin with the assumption that American children are inherently flawed. Recognizing this under the law, is not only just, it is basic logic.

        What we are asking for is that we as a society recognize that decades of over-incarceration have failed to make us safer, more just, or more moral. All it has done is feed a self perpetuating system that generates more violence and less security. The answer simply cannot be doing more of the same. Simply asking that a panel of professionals, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, review the context of a case as well as its content while accepting that hope and growth are possible, after at least a decade and a half of incarceration, is not too much to ask.

        No one, not me, not my boss, not the author of the bill, none of us is arguing or the wholesale release of all affected by this bill. Some people do not grow out of their maladaptive behaviors. Society must protect itself. I have seen some of the worst evil imaginable – first hand. I have lived in and amongst it,. You see, the part I didn’t mention when you asked if I knew any of these “poor children”, is that I am one of them. I went to prison at 17, and left Folsom state Prison, last October, at age 41. Now, I am guilty of my crime and justly sentenced for it, I did it, they got the right guy and locking me up was the right decision… Right up until it wasn’t. I can never undue, nor can I live down my crime, and that is as it should be. That being said, justice is not revenge, rather it is vengeance tempered by mercy, hope and context. Society is not served by my further incarceration, rather it is served by whatever humble contribution I am able to make it what time is granted to me.

        I am guessing that your instinct is to dismiss me because of my past, or to say that I am one of the “cherry picked” ones. That is of course your prerogative; however, I would ask that you consider the following before you do: 1) Be honest, you did not know that I was system connected until I told you.
        2) One of us had a 20+ year career in dealing with the consequences of this line of reasoning on a daily basis, and the other had a 20+ year career in which he only dealt with these kids at their lowest point, and never got to see them grow and develop.
        3) One of us knows these men- their names, their crimes, their victims, their growth, change, hope and potential and can speak with expertise on the numbers of people who have grown and changed as I have, and don’t need to be cherry picked.
        4) One of us only had ever had the chance to see those who failed to reintegrate. Because the ones who succeeded didn’t have the cops called on them… They simply faded back into the culture.

        I thank you for your service, and recognize that your years as a law enforcement professional have granted you a perspective that few are privileged to possess; however, you must also recognize that perspective and understand that to a hammer- everything looks like a nail, to a veteran cop- does everything look like something that can be cured by more and longer sentences?

        Sir, I welcome further discussion, as it can only serve to further illuminate the good SB260 and bills like it can do; however, I recognize that a comments section on a small article is an inefficient medium for such weighty debate, and humbly extend my hand for further discussion in the forum of your choice. I can be reached via the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and look forward to continuing our discussion.

        • I’m guessing, based upon the time you served, that you murdered someone, or participated in someone’s murder. It’s interesting how the details of the crime don’t seem to be relevant to any of the proponents of AB 261 who have commented here. Likewise, the victims’ families similarly don’t seem to be worth a mention. I wonder how they feel about your second chance?

          You obviously used your time in prison constructively. You clearly educated yourself and express your thoughts well. I hope you are sincere and I wish you continued success. What I do object to, however, is the tone of your comments, and those of the others here that seem to be aligned with your organization, which seems to be that you and those like you have somehow been wronged by society; that it would’ve been an injustice to keep you incarcerated. Whatever it was you did, it resulted in 24 years in prison, and could have lasted your whole life. I feel confident that if I heard the full story of your crimes, I wouldn’t have thought it unfair that you remain locked up. At the same time, I’m not opposed in all circumstances to second chances. But you weren’t owed anything. You were granted a great privilege. I hope you take full advantage of it. I notice though, that your summary of your story made no mention of the victims, only yourself, which is likely the same sort of selfish view of the world that got you into trouble in the first place.

          • I appreciate your willingness to engage; however, I am saddened by the predictable pattern that this discussion has taken. Generally speaking these discussions start off with one side taking a blustery and ill considered stance (notice I said one side, not necessarily your side), the other responds. Somewhere along the way the facts get involved and the bluster goes away, it is replaced by righteous indignation then, depending on how that is met, it devolves into attacking the messenger (and yes, back handed compliments and good wishes tailored to impugn credibility count). This is followed closely by those who don the hat of victim advocate and thus the discussion ends. Victims are victims forever, and nothing, no amount of reform, rehabilitation, or change will modify that in any way. If that is our metric then there is no discussion. Once the debate is reduced to static factors that are immutable, then it becomes an exercise in accusation with no chance to move beyond. This is a sad place to be.

            Yes, Sir, my crime was horrible, and yes if you knew the full story of my crime you would have no problem with me being locked up forever. No, I did not discuss it my post. Primarily because my past is not germane to the topic at hand. This discussion was not about me (nor was about any of the messengers who posted here). I do discuss my crime. In fact, I discuss it on a regular basis. I talk about it at conferences and in classrooms, I speak openly before criminal justice students, social workers and activists. I engage with law enforcement, prison officials, lawmakers, and even parole board members. I have spoken before Masters classes at one of our nations most prestigious universities, and in the tiny church of a faith I do not share. In short, I use my story to help illustrate the larger story: but there are 3 things about my crime I don’t do: 1) I don’t profit from it (I wont be writing a book or selling a script), 2) I don’t use it as an excuse, 3) I never discuss my victim(s) other than to acknowledge their existence. This is at their request.

            I support and engage in a practice called restorative justice, which requires that those of us who have offended give voice and opportunity to those whom we have offended against. We allow them to have their say – to make their wishes known, and if at all possible to honor their wishes. Mine have asked that I not involve them in my life, not to contact them, name them or subject them to my presence… Can’t say that I blame them, and I certainly won’t do so to further my own agenda. That being said, If you reread my post you will see that it was, in fact, I that mentioned the victims and knowing the victims of some of the SB260 boys (again a Senate bill not an Assembly bill… and 260 not 261). That is because I have helped with the early stages of the restorative justice process for dozens of them.

            To get back on point, Sir, absolutely none of what I have just told you is relevant. Nothing that I have accomplished- none of my degrees, none of my credentials or any service I perform will ever make up for what I did at 17. And that Sir is the point. There can be no recompense for creating a victim nor should there be; however, this is the very definition of immutable. If we as a culture wish to base our system on the immutable then we abandon justice in favor of vengeance and ignore science. While that is an option, it is one that I vehemently oppose.

            Sir, I told you in my last post that I was “…guilty of my crime and justly sentenced for it.” Not exactly the turn of phrase used by someone who feels wronged by society. However, having been a part of the system has given me a different perspective on the nature of that system. I have been able to see both sides of the fence and can recognize that one side needs painting. I do fell deeply privileged and recognize that, now as a result of this privileged position, my service is required. Those that have the ability to act, have a duty to do so – this notion is at the core of public service. I have the ability to share and expose a flawed line of reasoning and help people understand that the CONTEXT of a crime matters as much as the CONTENT of a report. Doing this does not make me ungrateful, or demonstrate an expectation on society… Society has never owed me anything, quite the opposite I OWE SOCIETY! It would be far easier to just fade back into the culture and not put myself through the hazard and heartache that being out front of this line of work brings; however, the only way my inner voice will let me sleep is if I spend each day making the world just a little bit better. This is my area, and this is what I know how to do. This is how I help make the world a better place.

            Going forward I ask that you spend some time recognizing that your post went from being about the issue at hand to being about me… About the messenger and not the message. I humbly ask that consider how you would have reacted to my posts had I left out the paragraph about my background.

            Finally, I want to thank you for recognizing that second chances are not always a bad thing. Too many get locked into their own dogma and cannot step beyond it. You showed great courage by stepping out half-way to meet me, whats more, when it became clear that the worm had turned on this comment page you didn’t slink back into the darkness of cyberspace; rather, you stepped up and engaged with those of differing position and gave as good as you got. Thanks for that. Happy 4th of July – and have a wonderful Independence Day.

        • I disagree with your suggestion that you and your background are not relevant to the issue. I believe that the details about what you did were extremely relevant to the question of whether you deserved to be released, as would be the details of the offenses of any inmate seeking to be released. I’m not saying that the discussion should begin and end with those details, but they ought to be a significant part of the discussion.

          Thanks to a little bit of Googling, I now know what you did. I thought about linking that information here, but anyone who’s interested can Google it themselves. You’re, right. I certainly wouldn’t have seen any injustice in your being locked away forever. I’m also not in any position to judge whether you should have been released, because I don’t know any of the details about the positive strides you made while in custody. But what I do know is that you’re no victim. Yes, you didn’t you the word victim to describe yourself, but you also sought to lecture the rest of us about the injustice of the criminal justice system, in this way painting yourself as a victim without having to use the word.

          In your initial response to me you wrote:

          “I find it interesting that the first two posts on this article were from law enforcement, thanks guys for self identifying and assisting the lawyers who will have to defend the children you are hunting. Law Enforcement Professionals who cannot tell the difference between children and adults are, by definition a part of the problem and need to be removed from the equation as soon as possible.”

          You don’t know me at all, or anything about what I’ve done in my career. I find it more than a little ironic that a convicted murder is trying to accuse me of being “part of the problem” and saying that I need to be “removed from the equation.” It was you that needed to be removed from “the equation.” Now you have your second chance. It might be wise, with your background, to go a little easy on the arrogant lecturing of others.

  14. Kudos to the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) for adhering to their mission “ to protect and preserve public safety through the exercise of its statutory authorities and policies, while ensuring due process to all criminal offenders who come under the board’s jurisdiction.” SB 260 has provided a window of opportunity for the defined population to demonstrate their maturity as evidenced by their stellar prison behavior record, and likely participation in rehabilitation programming within a system with limited opportunities. Does anyone actually believe the BPH would release an individual deemed a public safety threat? Nearly two years after the passage of SB260, zero recidivism for these state parolees is an excellent baseline toward’s the State’s smarter ongoing commitment to developing lasting, balanced, cost-effecitve solutions for California’s state prison system. It’s about time.

    • The naïve Sr. Garcia wrote: “SB 260 has provided a window of opportunity for the defined population to demonstrate their maturity as evidenced by their stellar prison behavior record…” Prison behavior has little relevance to how the parolee will behave when he/she is on the outside. Prisoners learn quickly how to game the parole system. Infractions inside are punished swiftly, without fail, and with no endlessly forgiving judicial intervention. Ex-cons don’t have that swift justice on the outside. And, since they have demonstrated a life of little self-control, they almost invariably return to the behavior that put them in the joint to begin with. Many are caught, some are not. Thus, we have a high recidivism rate.

      • Mr. John Michael. Prison behavior has everything to do with a successful transition. You must be a beat cop and not familiar with state parole. What’s humorous is your anecdotal comments are in direct opposite to the decades of relevant research that informs practice. Your sweeping generalization is based on ignorance. No sir, your outdated views have been proven wrong.

  15. One of the things we all need to come to terms with is the idea that a bright line rule of who is a juvenile and who is an adult is not workable in all contexts. For example, we used to cut off all support to foster kids the moment they turned 18, as if that’s some magical number that suddenly transforms you into a responsible individual able to support yourself on your own. We use different numbers for different reasons, as is reasonable. Social psychologists recognize that teens, for the most part, are able to make mature decisions in those areas of life where, for example, they have the ability to consider alternatives, speak with others (not their peers) and make a reasoned decision. This is because some parts of the brain are developed enough to allow cognitive reasoning for “cold decisions” at that age. On the other hand, there are parts of the brain that are not fully developed until the mid-twenties. This is hard neuroscience, based on numerous, substantiated longterm studies of adolescent and adult brains. These undeveloped areas make adolescents and “emerging adults” much more impulsive, unable/likely to give negative consequences the significant weight in decision making, unable to consider long term consequences, more likely to engage in risky behavior, and more likely to make bad “group” decisions and follow their peers. In other words, they just aren’t thinking with all cylinders operational. (How many times have you said or heard a parent ask “What were you THINKING?” )
    I’ve worked with the juvenile and criminal justice system for almost 30 years. I spend a lot of time in prisons, and even there, the guards will acknowledge that many of these youngsters (including those up to mid 20’s) just needed to grow up and mature, but most of them were in bad situations—living in impoverished communities where drugs, violence and gangs were just a simple part of the equation. They did stupid, risky, sometimes really stupid really risky really bad things, but they have been punished significantly, have learned to atone for their crimes, and are the very people who could help all of us turn the tide on violence, because they want nothing more than to give back and ensure other young people don’t make the same errors and ruin their lives, and the lives of others.
    As far as I know, not one person released on early parole from SB 260 is back in prison. Every single one that I know of is enrolled in college, working and/or advocating on behalf of better more effective crime policies. That’s something you can’t say about any other population released from any facility.
    If you look at who is supporting this law and these kind of laws, you might be surprised….conservatives and liberals alike support this law. They recognize that it embraces a definition of public safety that realizes some people–those who were developmentally immature and made mistakes but have paid for them– deserve a second chance, and that by giving hope to prisoners who may someday prove their readiness to leave prison, we are improving behavior and reducing violence in the prisons, saving a lot of money, and contributing to the future reduction of crime and wasted lives–lives of both victims and offenders. Let’s spend the money on PREVENTING crime in the first place, and we can go a long way in doing that by allowing these reformed and rehabilitated men and women to come out and give back to the community.

  16. I certainly hope you or one of your loved one doesn’t ends up like Katheryn Steidle at the hands of someone you let go!

  17. It is in the public’s interest that those who commit violent, criminal acts be removed from society, either by incarceration or execution. A judge or jury will, at the time of sentencing, weigh the circumstances of the crime, serve the public interest by assessing the danger posed by the convicted defendant, and apply the law. A major issue in both the law and the sentencing is where, on a scale of human behavior, to chart the defendant’s action: was it an understandable, albeit intolerable act, such as a provoked assault or heat of passion outburst, was it an act so cruel and devoid of compassion as to qualify it as inhuman, or was it something in between?

    Unlike most behaviors, murderous violence does not need to be educated out of a child. Kids don’t need to grow out of it because almost none are born with it. Instead, murderous violence is an exceptionally rare behavior, regardless of gender, age, or socioeconomic factors. Truth be told, were the heart-tugging excuses used in the telling of Michael Mendoza’s upbringing as pertinent to his crime as they’ve been made out, San Jose would likely have to arrest 5,000 teenage murderers every year.

    Whatever it was that Mendoza did, and I wonder why this poster boy’s record and case details are nowhere to be found, a determination was made (by people with that information) to put him away for 15 years to life. If it turns out to be true that he didn’t pull the trigger, it could very well be that his sentence had much to do with the terror that gang-bangers posed to that community. The people have a right to be scared of gangsters, and they have a right to expect the law to act in their defense. Were this 1850, young Mr. Mendoza and his hoodlum “family” would’ve been treated to what they deserved: a necktie party.

    What AB 260 cheerleaders want to do is simple: they want their compassion and concern for the individual criminal to override the state’s compassion and concern for the victim and the terrified public (and don’t think parents — especially those of young Hispanic boys, aren’t terrified on a day-by-day basis of what these drive-by cowards might do to their kids). This community has already had way too many tragic cases of mistaken-identity deaths at the hands of these subhuman Sureños and Norteños. AB 260 is about stripping the victim’s family and the public of its right to have a real say in its own best interests. Once again, what the liberals want is the power — all of it, without any of the responsibility.

    • After reading your response to this article and possibly to the many others that you may have responded to as well. You should recognize the abundance of logical fallacies expressed in your words, which unfortunately stems from emotions and a strong misleading bias. Where, clearly you believe that the public interest is to see an individual under the age of 18 die or be seen executed because of a sub-conscious decisions is democraticly wrong.

      As a youth i had committed a violent crime which almost took the life of victim because of the dumb decision to bring a knife to school. I’ll tell you I was afraid of what was always going on around me. Even more afraid when i saw my victim fall to the floor. I would carry the knife with me to protect myself because of the fear I had as a latino boy growing up in a racially divided neighborhood. The same fear you have of people like myself. To categorize me as some animal is in sense inhuman in itself. There is not a day that goes by where I do not think of my victim or those at school during the time of the incident. That no matter how good I do or how young I was their will always be individuals like yourself that would have wanted to see 16-year-old boy suspend from the gallows.However, you are correct that unlike other behaviors murderous violence should not be taught out of a kid. That being said, not every kid grows up in great neighborhood where violence is rarely sometimes seen on the daily.

      Furthermore, you believe SB260 is stripping the State’s compassion for victim by my account you are wrong. Many victims will express that they would not want no one to ever experience what they have gone through. That being said, people like Michael Mendoza are able to treat those out of the murderous behavior you say regardless of socioeconomic factors should not be found inside youth. And i quote you “This community has already had way too many tragic cases of mistaken-identity deaths at the hands of these subhuman Sureños and Norteños”. Well, Michael and others that are not mentioned have become the solution to helping the next generation of at risk youth.

      I would also like to end with this by bringing liberals into the equation is ridiculous. Both the political terms liberal and conservative have been thrown out so freely individuals have forgotten the roots of their true political ideology. You are creating a much larger division which goes against the best interest of the people.


      Miguel A. Garcia

    • Frustrated Finfan -Your comments are ill informed driven by irrational fear mongering. Experience and statistics have shown that the broken windows theory of public safety doesn’t work and the super-predator research was outright wrong with the researcher admitting as much on national television. What the recent juvenile justice reform legislation does is to embrace the evidenced based principles of Restorative Justice. It has a very important accountability component to it. Neither of these pieces of legislation ignore the seriousness of the crime or its impact on the victims and the community. Both have hearing components where both sides are allowed to present evidence for and against release with the administrative or judicial body making the final call. It’s called due process. The fact that you consider people who commit serious crimes to be subhuman is so telling about who you are as a person and your draconian and narrow minded thought process. Should we send all the African Americans back to Africa, and deport all of people of color who don’t look like you and speak English? Personally, I believe in redemption, reconciliation, restoration and forgiveness. I do not believe in locking juveniles up and throwing away the keys no matter how serious their crimes. The United States Supreme Court agrees with me. They are hardly a standard bearer for liberals. I do believe in rational and fair sentencing, and I believe in a system that allows an individual, after serving a reasonable time in custody, even if it is a lengthy time, to be released once it is determined that he or she is no longer a threat to society and that he or she has been rehabilitated. I also recognize that no matter how logical the arguments or how convincing the statistics, that people like you chose to ignore the facts and embrace hate, fear mongering, and stereotyping. I am sorry your life is filled with such hateful thoughts and beliefs. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and hope that some day you will see the good in others even those who have made some serious mistakes. The irony of all this is you would be the first to join this juvenile justice reform movement if one of your own children were sentenced to life in prison for a crime that they committed while an adolescent.

  18. I am not sure I feel my children are any safer with some of these folks on the street as cops. The anger is obvious and the bias deeply disturbing. I worry about how they treat people that are suspected of crimes that they encounter. I suspect that they have already made up their mind before the investigation is even complete. They are what gives police officers a bad name and are how we end up with people shot in the back running and then a completelly different story being written in a police report that doesn’t resemble the truth in any respect. Have another drink. Kick your dog, beat your wife, and do it all in the name of public safety.

    • I’m not angry, I don’t drink, I don’t kick my dog, and I’ve never beaten a woman or committed any other crime, even before my brain was fully developed. And I treat everyone with whom I come in contact in a professional manner. It’s your own bias that’s showing.

      • “The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.” Act III, Scene II, Hamlet, Wlliam Shakespeare

  19. Simply awesome, I’m a firm believer in second chances in these scenarios. Small steps can equal large gains. Next we need to cut off our dependency on jails (shout out Miguel Willis) in order to, alleviate over enforcement and overbearing sentences.

    • > I’m a firm believer in second chances in these scenarios.

      “Second chance” means you got away with it the first time.

      One of the iron laws of human behavior is: “successful behavior is repeated”.

      I was fooled by a progressive once. Never again.

    • Over enforcement? Did you really say that? 99% obey the laws and never rape, rob or murder. The 1% ers want the rules of society to fit their agenda or lifestyle, which by the way flies in the face of the average hard working American.

  20. Miguel,

    I value the lives of teenagers who commit murderous violence equal to the sum of how much they:

    — valued the concepts of right and wrong (taught at church, school, and elsewhere in the culture)
    — were valued by their parents/family (as expressed by their efforts to teach and discipline them properly)
    — valued their parents/family (as expressed by their efforts to please them)
    — valued their community (as expressed by their behavior towards their neighbors and neighborhood)
    — valued the life of their victims (and, as is often the case, the innocent others who might catch a bullet)
    — valued their own liberty

    Before a teenager commits murderous violence he or she must reject so much of what defines being normal that it is delusional to portray their criminal act as the result of a mistake or the fault of the environment. Given the mountain of rules and behavioral expectations erected to prevent such acts, to consider the intentional use of a gun or knife a “mistake” is as absurd as attributing the twin towers disaster to pilot error. Also, the vast majority of such criminals have siblings who grow to adulthood somehow avoiding such mistakes (or being driven to criminality by their life’s circumstances). In legitimate science, contradictory outcomes produced by identical circumstances are sufficient to derail a theory (such as blaming the environment for violent crime); in social sciences, theories are political tools and thus, quite conveniently, immune from evidence. For example, SB 260 and its proponents, always so eager to attribute the violent acts of these criminals to their environment, now demand the rest of us to accept that these same criminals, after years in an ugly, oppressive prison environment that is far worse than anything on the outside, have earned and are deserving of society’s trust. Their logic is so convoluted that, using it, one might conclude that they see prison as a more psychologically nurturing environment than a broken home in a poor neighborhood.

    Far too often in this nation’s history the people have sent law-abiding young men off to risk death in service to their country. These were (and are) typically young men who respected their culture, community, and family. Many of them didn’t come back. Their deaths were mourned, their sacrifices remembered, but no matter that the circumstances of their war may be debated for decades after, no one disputes that these brave young warriors have been lost forever. It is, in fact, an absolute necessity that the nation find the strength to live with its losses and move forward; to do anything less would be a disservice to those who gave their all.

    If the people can find the strength to say goodbye to the youthful heroes who honor this nation they certainly should be able to find a way to say goodbye to the youthful villains who dishonor it. I have that strength; if a sentencing court sees fit to send a young predator away for life that’s good enough for me.

    But obviously, accepting the judgment of the judge and/or jury does not come naturally to everyone. American author Norman Mailer thought he knew better when he spearheaded the release of Jack Abbott, career criminal and convicted murderer. One month later, Abbott, angered over a restaurant’s restroom policy, stabbed a 22 year-old waiter. Abbott went back to prison, Mailer went back to other things, and Richard Adan, the victim, went to his grave. Too bad the court’s sentencing hadn’t been good enough for Mailer.

    There have been plenty of others who knew better, such as those, citing the tired old comparison of tuition and incarceration costs, who arranged the early release of convicts into a pilot program at San Jose State. One of those convict/scholars was moonlighting as a serial rapist until he was captured after raping and killing (with a broken broom handle) an elderly Naglee Park resident. The result: the pilot program was shelved and the bleeding hearts pursued other academically-certified early release strategies.

    Lest anyone be misled about the type of criminals affected by SB 260, I invite you to do a Google search on Jesus Cecena, a misguided youth who, just months shy of 18, murdered San Diego police officer Archie Buggs in cold blood. Cecena, whose “mistake” was provoked by the officer attempting to cite him for possession of beer, had a history of making mistakes. He was given a life’s sentence, however, as a result of SB 260, the parole board deemed him fit for release. It was only because of a storm of protests from San Diego PD that Governor Brown decided to override the board’s recommendation.

    • To begin,

      Brain research shows juveniles brains, specifically the prefrontal cortex, do not fully develop until approximately 25. Because in your opinion you give so much deference to the decisions of the judges, I’ll quote the Supreme Court of the United States who conclude, “a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility are found in youth more often than in adults… these qualities often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions.” Further, “the second area of difference is that juveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure.” Lastly, the court writes because of “children’s diminished culpability, and heightened capacity for change, we think appropriate occasions for sentencing juveniles to this harshest possible penalty will be uncommon.” Yet it is not uncommon, so these are what the legislative efforts like SB260 are intended for, creating accountability to uphold our criminal justice system to the standards the highest court in the U.S. has set for the country.

      This conversation is not about knowing right and wrong, or even mistakes alone, its about how children physiologically respond differently to peer pressure, the normalized levels of violence in their communities, etc. I taught for two years in a unit of juveniles prosecuted as adults, the same teenagers you disparage in your response. Many of these students were the youngest co-defendant in the case threatened and pressured into participation by much older men. Your assumption that, “the vast majority of such criminals have siblings who grow to adulthood somehow avoiding such mistakes,” is also false, I’d like to know where you are getting your data to support these arguments.

      I also find your correlation between saying goodbye to “youthful heroes” and saying goodbye to “youthful villains” offensive. I have family who has been deployed upwards of four times for tours in Afghanistan and Iraq during wartime. They are all advocates and proponents of the reform work I do to end mass incarceration, these war heroes you speak of have the compassion to understand these policies and the insight to understand the ways violence and exposure to trauma affects people.

      When you say, “I have the strength, if a sentencing court sees fit to send a young predator away for life that’s good enough for me,” the problem here is that legislatively we have removed autonomy from the courts to determine sentences by putting in mandatory sentencing schemes. When we prosecute juveniles as adults we remove discretion from judges to chose a sentence they find fitting giving the type of offender (juvenile) and circumstances of the case. There are plenty of judges nationally whom are advocates of these reform efforts. Please do your research to better understand our legal system and become informed before you draw these conclusions.

      Lastly, your use of the Willie Horton/Jack Abbott argument is tired. These cases are the outliers not the norm, and to have our politics and laws driven by outliers creates expensive and unjust results for the majority of those affected. I’m not sure how much you follow the current political debates, but ending mass incarceration is a bi-partisan affair.

      You can google all the unfavorable stories about heinous crimes, but the reality is Jesus Cecena and the others are not the same person they were at the time of their crimes. People change, I’m sure you are not the same person that you were 15 or 20 years ago. These policies simply create the opportunity to have your cased viewed again in light of the advancing brain research.

      • Ms. Sobel writes: “When we prosecute juveniles as adults we remove discretion from judges to chose [sic] a sentence they find fitting giving [sic] the type of offender (juvenile) and circumstances of the case.” Law abiding citizens got fed up with ivory tower judges who were too lenient on these repeat predators. Thus, discretion was properly removed from those far too lenient judges. She continues: “Lastly, your use of the Willie Horton/Jack Abbott argument is tired. These cases are the outliers not the norm…” I submit to you that your rare successes are the real outliers. And Ms. Sobel ends by saying: “These policies simply create the opportunity to have your cased viewed again in light of the advancing brain research.” Well, the brain research clearly has not advanced enough. Challenge these researchers to accept personal financial liability for all those they recommend to be released, and they’ll run for the door.

          • You must be very blissful, then, SF Advocate. Why don’t you blissfully make an appointment with Kathryn Steidle’s parents and explain your theories to them and sing Kumbaya together?

  21. To begin, Thank you Mr. Malloy for your honest perspective regarding this demographic: juveniles tried as adults. I do believe you are an honorable man and are well intended in your service to your community. However, my opinion of your character really is not material to this discussion.

    For background on my positionality: I was 17 years old when I accepted a plea bargain and was convicted of manslaughter. The victim was an established 38 year old gang member whom was high and under the influence of crack and PCP at the time of the incident. I was protecting my mother in my home. The thing is my mom had the propensity to date gang members who were often abusive men. There is more to my case, that you are welcome to google. However, I firmly believe that taking responsibility and acknowledging the harm I caused is an important facet of rehabilitation and accountability. The victim’s perspective in these cases must be considered, but also be aware that there is more than one voice within that community, and many victims rights/restorative justice groups have co-sponsored and participated in the lobbying process to get bills like SB260 and SB 261 passed.

    Let’s fast forward to the 9 years I spent inside the California prison system. I visited several different prison yards that all shared the same apathetic acceptance of prison gangs, entrenched violence, and their own destructive sub-political culture. I have to say, as someone who has had to go through the process of being a juvenile tried as an adult, and essentially growing up in the California prison system, I whole heartedly believe that WE can come up with some alternatives to how things are being managed right now. Yes crimes require punishment, but the question is what is proportional and what should those conditions of confinement look like? Who do we want paroling back into the community?

    We can began by reminding ourselves that this is a discussion about how to help our/the kids get back on track when they are being led the wrong way by either their parent’s negligence or that child’s community negligence. I believe it takes a tribe and lots of one on one support, which many of these repeat offenders are begging for. The issue here is what the juvenile is exposed to inside prison. This is not the place to send a young person still developing biologically and who is still defining themselves and in many ways still impressionable. One must adopt the perspective of a parent! I can speak from experience… There is so much pressure to do drugs, participate in riots, and for some even a learned form of racism is developed that’s even encouraged through the institutionalized segregation of our prison system. The culture in prison is not conducive to rehabilitation. The counselors cannot handle their case load, neither can the parole officers.

    What saved Michael Mendoza was the intervention he received through community members invested in prison reform, not the excessive amount of years spent locked inside a cell. I must say that is so unfair for you to think that the prison system helped any of these young people who have gone through it. Did I derive some lessons from prison? Yes, but I could have done that in a much different environment, in less time. Remember the punishment is supposed to be the deprivation of your freedom, not the conditions to which you are subjected. Thank you to Scott Budnick (founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition) and company, so much progress has been made in identifying where we can help as a community. Before crimes are committed, during trial and while confined serving the time and even during the re-entry process. Let me tell you, $200 of gate money upon release does not set you up for success after incarceration.

    What I have learned that works, is a comprehensive network of community members, often not the parole officer or staff affiliated with the prison program, but a family that begins in juvenile hall when the young person is being tried as an adult. Specifically Inside-Out writers and the Anti-Recidivism Coalition have caught these young people before they are sentenced and follow up with them. They are always instilling hope and encouragement for a positive future. Always bringing news of what is happening in the courts and involving youth in the advocacy process. Unfortunately, not everyone has the chance to be a part of these programs, and what are they left with instead? The homies and prison politics? The “Homies” will prey on the young and corrupt them more. I believe that exposing these young kids to an environment where violence is praised and encouraged is not the right answer. Prison will teach the “kids’ how to put your work in and just Max out; everyone does… Hold this shank or pass this note. There are so many collateral consequences to sending our young people to these institutions.

    It all comes down to what works to rehabilitate people. I stand by it being knowledge; these kids need education, hope, and replicable examples of what works. After 9 years inside the system, I am now attending Loyola Marymount University and find it very discouraging to read these comments. It seems we have a veteran police officers that thinks it is not a problem that juveniles are being tried as adults. Where is the discussion of our failing criminal justice system? We are trying to innovate and heal these kids who may return grown to our society, while holding them accountable for the harm caused. Yet, I am afraid that adding an R to CDC has not fixed the pitfalls a young person faces in the California prison system. The reality here is that I am not exceptional, neither are any of the people responding on this thread. We are examples of what happens with proper investment of resources, we are people who’ve been afforded the opportunity to do the hard work to authentically better ourselves. This is something I believe everyone is capable of, no child is born bad.

    So, I have a problem with children being tried as adults. Brain research proves that our prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for impulse control, vulnerability to peer pressure, and decision making, is not fully developed until around age 25. Even the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized in recent holdings that children are categorically different than adults, and must be treated as such. It is sad that so many give up so easy, and that our justice system still lags behind the science.

    You can believe what you like Mr. Malloy, but I believe there needs to be some reallocation of the state funds to reinvest in things that work- like educational programs and community organizations that can catch our children before they enter the system, or in this case catch the 34 year old man when he comes home. Bottom line is I believe we can treat our children better than just locking them up and throwing away the key leaving them to find their identity in prison culture among so many broken men. I believe fiscally this could save millions of tax dollars and maximize the utility of people in the workforce upon release. I believe there is room for redemption, room for development of the policy that governs these young people’s futures, and room for optimism. I don’t believe in absolutes Sir, I see solutions not problems. Which is why in my rebuttal I tried to convey some information and a solution instead of just pointing at a problem.

    Your collected responses contained much ignorance, rooted in lack of exposure not malice I’m sure, but I hope that is beginning to dissipate. You continually divert the point and your discussion of immigration, victims mentality, and racial disproportionality of those committing violent crimes is misguided. So, race is the problem here? We should look at this? Then let us ask, what can we do about all these Mexican and Blacks coming from broken homes and broken communities committing crimes? Why don’t we instead discuss the root problems: lack of access to affordable housing, lack of quality health food, budget cuts in public education, high levels of trauma. No pun intended, this topic is not black and white, there are many variables at play. However, it is 2015 and I refuse to digress with you Mr. Malloy, but before we agree to disagree I want you to know that we can still be kind to one another and not agree on anything. So your attack on Mr. Lo’s character demonstrates you’re looking backward when we are looking forward. Research shows that recidivism rates lower with proper resource investment and that life sentences are not necessary for maintaining public safety. I am this demographic that you are writing off. I am that poor boy who grew up surrounded by gangs, drugs, and violence. I am no longer what I was but more who I have chosen to become.

    “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” -Frederick Douglass.


    Anthony Gregory Alfaro

    • I didn’t attack Mr. Lo’s character. I did point out that he is a convicted murderer, but that’s simply a fact. I didn’t detail his crime. I didn’t even include his last name. You did that. It was actually Mr. Lo who attacked my character by stating that I was “part of the problem” and should be “removed from the equation.” I assume that Mr. Lo didn’t mean that I should be removed from the equation in the same way he removed his victim from the equation.

      The only thing Mr. Lo knew about me was that my opinion differed from his. During the 24 years he was locked up, I was serving the community. I have no doubt that I’ve done just a little more good in my life than he has in his. Clearly, I’ve done much less bad. Mr. Lo is entitled to his views, but I don’t need to quietly listen to him try to tell me that I shouldn’t be doing a job I’ve done quite well. He’s in no position to lecture me.

    • Sr. Alfaro: Guey, you said you accepted a plea bargain that got you 9 years in the joint for defending your mother from an abusive boyfriend. Clearly, you left a lot out of that summary of the facts that led to your conviction. If you were truly merely defending your mother from her bad choice of bedfellows, you should have gone to trial. If that story held up, you’d have been acquitted, especially if your deceased victim was a known gang member, which would have been admissible at trial in your defense. But of course, what you told us was merely your version of the truth, with lots of important details left out. So, I have to guess that at the very least you had a lot of priors that would have been admissible had you gone to trial. Or, the threat presented by your Mom’s boyfriend did not justify DEADLY force. You’re gaming us, ‘mano, and you certainly have learned well all the social pseudo-science buzzwords. Your partial story may sway the Pollyannas on this thread to give you a great big Orale! But it doesn’t wash with those of us grounded in reality. I wish you all the success you deserve, but I ain’t buyin’ what you’re sellin’.

  22. FRUSTERATED FINFAN you are way out of line. You don’t really understand this demographic but it is a free country feel free to make as many absurd comments as you like. Like Mr. Malloy you seem to drift away from the real topic here. You do seem to be informed but your twisting facts and using individual cases for your arguments foundation. The problem there is I can in turn present several more cases of young men and women coming home and graduating from a University and even giving back to there community through not only community service but with their time and money through mentoring and leading by example. Engaging in the legislative process through political advocacy. IT is so sad to hear someone intelligent speak so ignorantly and underneath so many false and negative pre-set ideas stigmatizing our youth. We can talk about behaviorism and B.F skinner or we can discuss Carl Rogers and growth but I don’t think your ears are open to me because I am stigmatized by my conviction. Either way FINFAN its outlandish that you would involve fallen soldiers in this conversation just to give yourself momentum. Our countries War hero’s are not a credit card you can use for your own opinions validation and what’s more is it was a horrible example. You should be ashamed of yourself. The young men being tried as adults deserve more consideration then you are affording them. Once again it is a free country and I hope this platform of discussion provides you with a more whole perspective on juvenile sentencing reform and rehabilitation. Governor Brown would not agree with your position which is why he has worked pretty closely with the abovementioned organizations. Be well FINFAN.

    • Sr. Alfaro chided FINFAN and stated: “The problem there is I can in turn present several more cases of young men and women coming home and graduating from a University and even giving back to there community through not only community service but with their time and money through mentoring and leading by example.” The key word in that sentence is “several”, several out of 6-to-7 thousand incarcerated juveniles in California alone. That’s a drop in the ocean, and proves nothing.

      • JohnMichael …. No, sir, the key word is your response proves nothing. It’s clear, your intelligence has waned over the years. Your comments across this thread prove that. Have a nice day.

        • Jason: you and your fellow idealists are the real purveyors of anecdotal evidence. You cherry pick the rare success and extrapolate it throughout the entire offender population. Successful rehabilitation on a significant scale is so far away that there is yet not a wee glimmer of light to be seen at the end of the tunnel. For every Michael Mendoza there are hundreds of career criminals who bounce in and out of jail. Sadly, Kathryn Seidle crossed paths with one of them in SF. The finger pointing between ICE and Mirkarimi misses the point entirely. Mr. Sanchez had at least five chances before he killed Ms. Seidle. Mr. Sanchez represents the vast majority of offenders, as evidenced by our very high recidivism rate. How many more chances would you propose Mr. Sanchez and others like him be given? At least I have some intelligence to wane.

          • JOC…. All wrong. Let the evidence speak. Smart on crime not stupid. You know darn well your perspective is a long lost… so quit with the fabrications.

  23. I’d like to summarize the argument by the opponents to SB261:
    1. People never learn or evolve.
    2. In particular, teenagers do not develop.
    3. Therefore, a teenager or young adult who commits a violent crime should be sent to prison for the rest of his or her life. A parole board should not review 15-25 years of their behavior while incarcerated to determine whether they have learned to be solid citizens. As an opponent to SB261, I know more about that person even though I have never met him or her.

    Their additional assumptions:
    1. Fear should rule all decisions.
    2. Facts, evidence, or research that does not support my point of view must have been made up by people with a “liberal” agenda.

    Given their stated disdain for “liberals,” the opponents probably also believe in a smaller government and reducing taxes (which I agree are reasonable goals). However, it is not clear how they want to pay to incarcerate all those people or to shrink government while building and maintaining prisons. Perhaps they’d suggest reducing funding to the Cal State and UC university systems (as they think they are the home to fake-science producing liberals), but the State of California already spends more on the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation than on those university systems combined.

  24. Ms. Sobel,

    I find it amusing that the underdeveloped brains of adult progressives have just now discovered something that was once taken for granted: that the decision-making abilities of young people are especially fallible. This, after these same arrogant know-it-alls have spent the last five decades securing the vote for 18 year-olds, encouraging students to take command of school curricula, stripping parents of their authority, and putting adolescent girls in charge of their own sexual behavior.

    Lest one be fooled into thinking progressives love science, the hard science regarding adolescent decision-making dates back long before the invention of high-tech tools (such as the FMRI), which explains why car rental and car insurance industries (using collision data) have always discriminated against young drivers. But, of course, evidence contradicting efforts to politically empower the young went ignored everywhere progressives held sway (such as academia) because it didn’t serve their purpose (which was the brainwashing of young people prone to “impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions”). But now, when it might be used to set free criminals not otherwise eligible for parole, the progressives scream the word “science” for all to hear.

    Well, what’s your science have to say about the fact that over half of all murders are committed by people over 25, criminals with fully-developed prefrontal cortexes? What is it that accounts for their ill-conceived actions? Wait, let me guess: post traumatic stress! Hey, maybe every murderer should be released.

    Getting back to your underdeveloped brain, Ms. Sobel, you are apparently under the impression that the Supreme Court is part of the legislative branch, as you seem to think our lawmakers should take their direction not from the people they represent but from an elitist group of political appointees — none of whom has to live in the neighborhoods terrorized by the “impetuous and ill-considered actions” of young thugs. The harsh penalties that so offend the court are the result of the lawmakers reacting to the public’s offense over the crime in their communities. But, of course, progressives like you don’t care about the public at large.

    That my correlation using heroes and villains offends you because of the sociopolitical beliefs of the soldiers in your family bothers me not, but it does say a lot that you, in your desperate attempt to support your politics, would compare the home life of the typical offender to the horrifying trauma of war.

    Lastly, in your final attempt to convince me not to form opinions based on “outliers not the norm,” you ignore the point I made in my previous post: juveniles who commit violent crime are “not the norm.” Everyone you’re trying to set free is, to use your term, an “outlier,” and in each and every case I am content to see them serve their sentences as prescribed.

    • I am not under the impression the Supreme Court is a part of the legislative branch, I am a law student and working in Washington, D.C. However, the rulings of the Supreme Court become precedent for lower courts, and when the courts look at 8th Amendment arguments they look to the evolving standards of decency, based in part off of legislative decisions in states, therefore these branches are closely related.

      It is unclear to me what exactly your point is about empowering young people and acknowledging that the car rental places has to do with this conversation. I think you are trying to point out what you view as hypocrisy in the way “progressive” use science. However, to me it seems that if we have always understand drivers under the age of 25 require special treatment we should do the same in regards to sentencing, an arena with much greater consequences. Secondly, this conversation is not about murderers over the age of 25, we are discussing the opportunity for resentencing for those under 21, and juveniles prosecuted as adults.

      Your discussion of the ways lawmakers represent their constituents is oversimplified, as often our elected politicians are concerned more with reelection than the desires of their communities. Even so, as the tides change in the level of riskiness is being an ally to reform efforts, again we see bi-partisan support within this field of advocacy. Many legislatures who participated in the wave of “tough on crime” sentencing, are beginning to publicly comment on their mistakes as they too recognize the need for change.

      As to your being offended with my comparison to the life of a typical offender to the horrifying trauma of war, the research is there, you are welcome to google this, but I have provided a link for you as well.

      • Ah, Ms. Sobel, the idealistic law student (I was one once, until I saw more of the real world), flushed with the explosion of ivory tower ideas that she seeks to foist on us all. She writes: “ …and when the courts look at 8th Amendment arguments they look to the evolving standards of decency,…” Sorry to burst your bubble Ms. Sobel, but in the last 50 years SCOTUS has expanded the standards of acceptable INdecency and the rights of criminals to the detriment of society as a whole. Lest you think I am some right wing religious fanatic, please be advised that I am a non-believer. I don’t use the word atheist, since a few litigious activist atheists continue to attempt to foist their egocentric ideas about prayer and religious holiday displays on the vast majority in this country who are believers.

    • FINFAN all you have to do is accept the information… no response necessary. I find it amusing that to all the comments you could have responded to you chose to try and belittle Ms. Sobel. Clearly, A very articulate and intelligent young lady that seems to actually be informed on this discussion of juveniles tried as adults. You continue to divert the point taking away from our conversation with your simple and ridiculous view on this topic. You have involved our soldiers in an attempt to validate your argument and failed and then you attempted to berate a Law student who is trying to enlighten you? In addition, What does adolescent girls sexual behavior have to do with this conversation? Honestly, You are a poor excuse for an intellect and I hope you consider the way you have represented yourself on this strand. Please do some research! click the link provided then read and listen more and actually form an educated opinion on this topic. Thank you.

  25. I think substantial parts of the comments are missing the point. They are debating the merits of SB 260. This bill (SB 261) applies to 18-22 year olds, not juveniles. The U.S. Sumpreme Court addressed the brain science as applied to juveniles, under age 18, not adults and certainly not 22 year olds. By the age of 22 every legal right has accrued. This is not about juvenile brain development in my opinion, but rather using that science to undo lawful settled sentences. While Legislature has that right prospectively, it is questionable whether that right exists retroactively as the People have the right to see that previously issued sentences are carried out in full. It is in our CA constitution.

    Some commenters have taken the approach that anyone who does not prioritize, agree with, or otherwise view as gospel the juvenile brain science as ignorant and backwards. That science is hardly surprising, but it does not mandate any particular policy preference. Punishment is, and always has been, a legitimate aspect of penal policy. That others prioritize rehabilitation is their right, but does not make opponents anti-science or uneducated as some commenters have implied.

    • The cases in front of the Supreme Court where the brain research was used was in the context of those under the age of 18. However, the brain research shows the development of the pre-frontal cortex is not complete until around the age of 25, which is why it is applicable and informative in understanding the rationale behind SB 261.

      In looking at retroactivity, Judges/Attorney Generals/Parole Boards etc., look to legislative intent or make the decisions themselves in cases where there is ambiguity, as to whether it should be applied retroactivity. So here the power lies in both the judicial and legislative branches to make that decision. The issue of retroactivity also has to do with precedents being viewed either as substantive or procedural changes, you are correct as this is something that is in contention as it applies to the Miller holding.

      I think the commenters are not saying those who disagree are automatically ignorant and backwards, but more so take offense to the tone and language used to disparage our own opinions. This is a topic clearly close to the hearts of those who have been through the system, so it is to be anticipated that some take these things personal. I personally believe in the necessity of dialogue across opinion lines; we need collaboration from all sides of the spectrum, representing all stakeholders in order to find the most effective and just solutions. But these debates must be productive, to the point, and most importantly respectful.

      Lastly, to be clear punishment is only one portion of the penological theory that our system is founded upon. In total it includes: retribution, deterrence incapacitation, and rehabilitation. A punishment is meant to consider the benefits within each category and apply the sentence proportionally considering the entire picture. This is why both the characteristics of an offender and circumstances of crime are relevant to this conversation.

      • > However, the brain research shows the development of the pre-frontal cortex is not complete until around the age of 25, which is why it is applicable and informative in understanding the rationale behind SB 261.

        Might one reason further from this “research” and conclude that people are still functionally children until “around the age of 25”.?

        In which case, people who enter into matrimony — including gay matrimony — with a person under the age of 25 is arguable engaging in child sexual exploitation.

          • His logic is pretty straight on. Adolescence isn’t adulthood, and should we be trying people as adults before 25?

            SJO once again you have provided me with some thought provoking logic. This changes everything! We shouldn’t let people vote until 25, or move out, or drink, smoke, join the military, etc. We shouldn’t hold them accountable, because “they’re children”

            Dude are you sure you’re not a progressive? lol.

          • Jason: Susan Sobel called anyone under 23 children. You dreamers need to get together and get your stories straight.

  26. IGNORANCE is pernicious to society. Ignorance is one’s failure and/or lack of awareness and knowledge of something (race, culture, customs, people, etc.) which many people possess because it is unfamiliar to them whether by default or choice. But It is not so terrible that the ignorant should be thrown away to die in prison like the juvenile offenders we are debating, however it is understandable because we are all ignorant to something. But the beautiful thing about ignorance is that once the person decides to at least be open-minded to the foreign specifics, it can be healed through education!

    Shall I clarify:
    SB261 is not a “get out of jail free card” but it is simply an incentive of hope for all the youth and juvenile offenders (only, under the age of 23) who have been sentenced to lengthy times to positively change their lives and possibly receive a chance at regaining their freedom, only after they have been legitimately rehabilitated and served 15-25 years depending on their type of crime. The bill does not apply to One Strike Rape, 3 Strike and LWOP offenders under Jessica’s Law. Of the 6,500 offenders affected by SB260 since it passed in 2013, there have been 490 parole hearings and only 155 people have been released. AND THERE HAS NOT BEEN ONE CASE OF RECIDIVISM. I participated in a lobby effort with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition in which SB260 was a success, ultimately because we were able to share our stories and expertise with those in power. I also happen to know one of those people who were released; Michael Mendoza, and have spent a gracious amount of time with him. He has proved to me as well as society that he is not who he was 20 or so years ago. In fact, he has used his success story to bring about hope and success to hundreds, if not thousands of others!

    Now, my name is Alton Pitre and my life was almost taken away from me potentially for the rest of my life. I was incarcerated exactly a week after my 18th birthday and two months before my high school graduation for a robbery that I did not commit nor was involved in. Three additional robbery charges and an attempted murder was stemmed from the initial charge. I try not to blame the two officers who constantly harassed and arrested me for gang injunction for this particular arrest but that is difficult to do when two months before they told me personally out of their mouths that they were “going to get me!”

    I could have easily been mad at the world but I took self responsibility for my circumstance because although I was innocent of the crime I was guilty of the lifestyle. During my time incarcerated, I took advantage of “education” and programs that helped to rehabilitate me because I knew that this was a test from God to change my life. Despite an alibi of being at present at night school and insufficient evidence, the juvenile courts still failed to hear my cries of innocence. After two years of being locked up, on my last juvenile court date I declined a plea bargain of a year and a strike and was sent to adult court where I faced 46 years to life! I was 19 years old. Fortunately and through the blessings of God, my case was dismissed in adult court three days later.

    Currently, I am a student at Morehouse College and have dedicated my life to inspiring the troubled youth and making true change in our criminal and juvenile justice systems which condemns us to die in prison for being the imperfect beings we all are. I’m also interning in Washington D.C. working to restore “justice for all” in our criminal justice systems on the federal level.

    I share my story to first host a unique side of a youth who was “innocent” of his crimes but was still tried as an adult and sought to be locked away forever thanks to our corrupted and injustice criminal system. Secondly, I share it to highlight the importance of love that was unconditionally given to me throughout my tough times which ultimately encouraged me to make a decision to say “this life is wrong.” We all need to be courageous enough to develop some empathy and acquire some love because it is the only thing that can drive out hate!

    Through sharing our stories, myself, along with hundreds of other brothers and sisters who have changed the trajectory of our lives for the better have seen tremendous successes in society and with legislation like SB260 and 261 due to our heartfelt efforts that have changed the perceptions of those once “ignorant” lawmakers and leaders who have deeply stigmatized our population for far too long.

    Do you deny a fellow human being of the same race that we all are the chance at redemption and changing their lives? Are you the same person you were 25 years ago? 15 years ago? Hell, how about 5 years ago?? True, people make mistakes, some make awful mistakes. I won’t even elaborate on the studies and sciences that proves the undeveloped brain of people under the age of 25 because it’s a free space on a bingo card, so you would think. I believe that a person should be able to regain their freedom after they have honestly acknowledged their mistakes and their victims, have fully served their time and have truthfully rehabilitated themselves especially under the horrendous conditions that are present in these sinister prisons. How can you expect God to forgive you in heaven if you can’t forgive someone on earth??

    And to “FRUSTRATED FINFAN” your statement, “Were this 1850, young Mr. Mendoza and his hoodlum “family” would’ve been treated to what they deserved: a necktie party,” was a very racist remark. That remark obviously reflects your self-frustration and the racial hatred of the world that is detrimental to everyone’s lives today. That was blatant racially motivated just like the recent acts of Dylan Roof. You sir, are in no moral position to even give your opinion on this topic or any others for that matter! You are a slave of your own demise.

    Love & Blessings,

    Alton PItre | Anti-Recidivim Coalition

    • > And to “FRUSTRATED FINFAN” your statement, “Were this 1850, young Mr. Mendoza and his hoodlum “family” would’ve been treated to what they deserved: a necktie party,” was a very racist remark

      Well, I don’t see it as a “racist” remark.

      Up to that point, I was willing to hear your case.

      After hearing many decades worth of social theorizing and political rant, I have come to the conclusion that, in the minds of the race obsessed, “racism” is eternal.

      The only solution is to “empower” my race, and suppress everyone else’s race.

      This is tribalism as humans practiced it 10,000 years ago. It’s still tribalism.

      • Funny I explained my case before I made that last statement. And if you think that his remark about “lynching” and the stereotypes of “hoodlums” isn’t racist then maybe you are.

        • > And if you think that his remark about “lynching” and the stereotypes of “hoodlums” isn’t racist then maybe you are.

          Wow! Spraying the racism blaster in all directions.

          You don’t want to miss anyone!

  27. I have a question for any of the members of the ARC, or any of the other organizations that have commented here. Let’s assume, as I’m sure you all believe, that the overwhelming majority of those released early under the provisions of SB 260 and SB 261 (if it is enacted) will lead exemplary post-release lives. People aren’t perfect, however. Let’s further assume that one innocent person is murdered by one of those released early. Would the program still have been worth it? Would it matter if more than one person was killed?

    • Hi Pete, perhaps we have met in our law enforcement circles? I have found your comment thread particularly interesting given your identification as a fellow law enforcement officer. Are we clear of our professional roles? You provide a hypothetical example to support your rationale in opposition to SB260 and SB261 ( if enacted). Our LEO roles are one part of the criminal justice system, correct? I am sure we are aware of this fact, follow me? So what purpose does it serve to dialogue originating from assumptions?

      Has not your agency (SJPD) been under investigation for strict enforcement practices targeting minorities in your community. Is that where you base your line of reasoning in opposition to SB260? To the article headline? As one professional to another, are we not stepping into the realm of what is essentially a corrections matter? Review the Parole Board biographies. Certainly not “bleeding heart liberals”. Rather we know their protection to public safety is paramount.

      Broaden your mindset and embrace the change that is happening here in CA. Evidence-based policing is a way of practice. Perhaps your agency can enhance professional development opportunities? I believe there has been call to dialogue with representatives from the ARC group? Perhaps, you can meet with their leadership. Come out from behind the veil of an online forum. Whether an outcome of a in person meeting would be an “agree to disagree” understanding, a greater outcome what would be enhanced partnerships with agencies such as ARC to better improve community based policing. That is if you are open minded enough to embrace this concept.

      All the best.

      By the way here is the link:

      • I’m not sure of your point in citing a SJMN article from six years ago. I imagine it was another attempt at a not so subtle attack. If it were true that you actually work as a police officer, I’d be stunned. You might need a little remedial report writing training to help you maintain a logical flow.

        • Pete Malloy,
          Seriously, Adam-12?

          You know the relevence. Why obfuscate facts? Shall a recent San Jose Mercury (5-9-15) article providing detailed data showing a greater percentage of blacks and Latinos being detained? And this is just recent data. Don’t deny facts.

          • I don’t deny those facts. But while you’re discussing those facts, you should also discuss the fact that a greater percentage of the members of the groups you mentioned are involved with the commission of crimes and membership in street gangs, which necessarily results in more frequent contacts with the police. The reason you don’t is that you’re intellectually dishonest. Talking about the full context of the statistics would undermine your political agenda.

          • Hello Pete,

            No, Pete. I believe you are, as you state, “intellectually dishonest.” Certain your line of reasoning, is in direct contradiction with the concern raised by the California Police Chief’s Association, and their recognition, “There is a concern when some people are being searched more often and detained more often.” Grant it. we can agree to disagree since it appears we are set in our ways. However, I will leave you with this:

            “We need to stop playing the game of ‘I’ll stop 20 people because one will be dirty,” said J. Thomas Manager, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, and chief of Montogomery County, Maryland, police force, one of the largest in the Washington, D.C.., metro area. “Because then what have have you done to community relations with the other 19?

            Think about that.

          • With that in mind, Why is TSA spending so much time with so little result searching every little old lady in the airport.
            It’s not PC to profile the usually suspects so now we have everyone treated like a criminal, or not!

            If we can’t treat known a criminal like a criminal, then we the public with suffer the consequences of you releasing bad guys all over the place. That should be the risk of the true believers not the public.

            If you people that believe you cured the bad guys, would take them home with you rather than turn them loose on us and prove them out, we could save a lot of time and money.We’ll give you a voucher like a charter school.

            We can call it home rehab for the second ,third, forth, fifth………..chance’re’s.

            Buy the way, hows that GIT-MO catch an release program working?

    • Pete, I appreciate your service to our state and appreciate the spirited debate. I do think you do look at this from a cynical and a bit negative point of view, through all the negativity and evil people you have met in your job. Many officers are jaded after the experiences they had. You do not get to interact with the success stories quite as often as the disasters.
      In answer to your question, I would say that any loss of life is unfortunate, but possibly worth it in some circumstances. For example, 276 people have been released under SB260. Zero have re offended in two years. Let’s say one person reoffends and commits murder. But 275 people never reoffend, they get their college degrees, are employed, pay taxes, give back to their communities, raise their kids the right way…..their kids go to school, pay taxes. And the positive cycle continues. Hundreds of kids lives are saved by these released change agents, as they are working with at risk youth and giving back. We also save hundreds of millions of dollars by not incarcerating these success stories, and reinvest in police, crime prevention and K-12 education. Those released by the parole board after serving two decades in prison are the least recidivating population in our prison system – 1%. So with all the success and the lives saved and changed, is it worth not releasing 275 people because one fails and hurts or kills someone? I look forward to your feedback.

      • I see your point, especially from an economic aspect, but it would be of little comfort to me (or you, I would imagine) if a loved one were to die at the hands of someone who had killed before, received a life sentence, and was then released to kill again. I actually don’t have a big problem with SB 260, but am definitely opposed to SB 261. My initial comment had nothing to do with either bill. What I have most objected to in this line of comments is the tendency of those favoring the bill to describe these young killers in heroic terms, to downplay the magnitude of their prior acts, and to label this program a rousing success after only a year or so.

        Especially galling are the self-congratulatory comments of the killers themselves, in which they boast of the tremendous people they say they have become while glossing over their prior acts and condemning those who disagree with them. I also have experience working inside of a maximum security prison and dealing with those that reside there. I’m familiar with the fact that many inmates develop a very convincing line of BS. They learn to tell people exactly what they want to hear. For that reason, their words mean little to me. It is their actions which will be most revealing.

        So when someone like Ryan attempts to lecture me about my place in the criminal justice system, I feel the need to remind him of his place. He has lived a few months in the free world without getting in trouble, which is something most of us have done our entire lives. We don’t need to be holding a parade for him or any of the others. Time will tell.

        • I’d like to hear more about where you’re opposition lies to SB261 in comparison to SB260, the only difference is the age cut off, so is it that simply these are not “children” in the sense that being under 18 is defined as a juvenile? It seems to me the logic behind SB260 is that children are different from adults, however the million times over brain research we’ve cited here shows us that 18 has been an arbitrarily drawn line in defining adulthood. Also the former Federal Youth Corrections Act in 1950, drew the line at 22 and under, and D.C. currently has people 21 and under eligible for juvenile adjudication as well. Historically interesting stuff in my opinion…

          Secondly, I also agree with ConservativeForJustice, that as a police officer you are often called into spaces to deal with stressful, dangerous, and challenging situations. It is not an easy job to be dealing with everyones worst moments, but I also think that has an impact on the way you view people, as all of our experiences influence our own perspectives as well. While I don’t share the same perspective that “killer” is the only or most relevant identifier of these folks, I do understand your concern about people BS’ing. But that leads me to the evidence on lifer recidivism. “Lifers” which essentially is everyone we are discussing in these bills and conversations, have the lowest recidivism rates compared to the average, and most often anyone who is again incarcerated is for technical parole violations not violence offenses. With a quick google search you will find evidence of this, but heres a quote/link as well:

          “Mullane said she was able to determine that 988 convicted murderers were released from prisons in California over a 20 year period. Out of those 988, she said 1 percent were arrested for new crimes, and 10 percent were arrested for violating parole. She found none of the 988 were rearrested for murder, and none went back to prison over the 20 year period she examined.”

          Of course there are outliers that we hear about in the news, but if the concern is those who are committing violent crimes after release, this demographic is not that. AND using the money saved in their release, this could instead be invested into both re-entry services and victims advocacy groups.

          Lastly, in terms of racial disproportionality in policing, it is true high crime areas are typically correlated with low income communities of color. So if the critical analysis stops there it would be easy to assume poor people of color commit the most crime. But in my opinion that is a dangerous and complicated assumption to make. First, I think it is necessary to look at the historical context of the disenfranchisement of people of color and poor people in America (e.g. jim crow laws, residential housing discrimination, access to education etc.). Second, if you isolate for drug users and look at whose arrested/convicted on drug offenses, the numbers are extremely disproportionate. Third, beyond the scope of your work if you look at sentencing practices after arrest, people of color receive disproportionately long sentences for the same offenses as white or higher income people. There is absolutely a race/class conversation to be had when looking at the criminal justice system, but I believe that doesn’t implicate police officers alone, it is also the judges, juries, prosecutors as well.

          Heres a recently released video from the Equal Justice Initiative you might find informative.

          • In these comments, we have heard over and over again about when the brain is fully developed. This seems to be the cornerstone of your argument. There is no way, however, to determine whether the murderous decisions made by these men had anything at all to with their level of brain development. For that reason, I’m only willing to provide offenders who were truly juveniles at the time of their offenses with the opportunity you’re seeking to extend to older offenders. You say that the current definition of who is a juvenile is arbitrary. I say that you’re attempt to attribute the actions of these offenders to a lack of brain development is arbitrary.

            You’ve identified yourself as a law student. So was I, and I know that Law Schools are bastions of liberal idealism, where eager students are intent on righting the wrongs they perceive. But one thing law students are often lacking, and I don’t know if this is the case with you, is real world experience. In any event, I think you have a misperception about what a police officer sees.

            You seem to think that we see only bad people. Sure, we see plenty of those, but we see the victims as well. You say you’ve worked with victims groups. Have you ever gone into a ransacked house and had an elderly woman whisper to you, out of earshot of her elderly husband, that the two teenagers who broke in also raped her? Have you ever seen a sobbing mother holding her dying, gang-connected son, as his brain slowly oozes out of the hole in his head? So, while you may focus on a prisoner’s educational accomplishments in the controlled environment of prison, and excuse a summary of his crime as the mistake of an undeveloped brain, I think I probably see the victims’ perspective a little more vividly than you do.

            But make no mistake. We see the good as well. We see the kids who grow up in the same disadvantaged circumstances as the prisoners you are seeking to help, who avoid crime and become productive adults, even with their undeveloped brains. We talk to the good, hardworking people who are forced, due to economic circumstances, to live in close proximity to those who seek to victimize others. These are people who love to see us drive by, because they know what their neighborhood would be like without us. They aren’t nearly as vocal as the police haters, but they are far more numerous.

            So if you view me as jaded, or think that I view the world in a negative way, you’re wrong. I see good in the world every day. But my experience has made me much less willing than you are to take convicted murderers at their word, and much less willing to forgive or excuse what they have done.

      • Conservative for Justice wrote: “In answer to your question, I would say that any loss of life is unfortunate, but possibly worth it in some circumstances.” What circumstances would those be? How about we appoint you to explain that to the families of the victims?

      • Conservative for Justice wrote: “In answer to your question, I would say that any loss of life is unfortunate, but possibly worth it in some circumstances.” Would you care to explain that to Kathryn Seidle’s parents?

  28. You are basically posing the question are the lives of those sentenced to largely de-facto life sentences in prison, whom are capable of becoming productive and crime free members of society upon release, worth keeping in prison for the life to hypothetically prevent one person from being killed in the event that one person released is not truly rehabilitated.

    I find that an offensive analysis on the value of the lives of those in prison and entirely contradictory towards the founding purposes of punishment. So that question absolutely does not alter my support of these legislative reforms.

    However, a better conversation that your question poses is how can we better fund and support the reentry process to ensure that when these bills pass, the people coming home are supported in a way that prevents recidivism. It is legislation like ban the box, and organizations like ARC that reduce or remove the chances of that hypothetical crime you mention.

    • I would find offensive the murder of an innocent person by someone who could have been serving a prison sentence. By refusing to even consider the question, you are avoiding something that should be an essential part of the discussion. I don’t find that surprising. In my experience, those that devote themselves to assisting those who have victimized others often have little regard for the victims, whether past or prospective.

      • Actually, I do plenty of work partnering with victims of crime groups and in fact I am currently working to compile a resource guide for victims of crime. I find your assumption about my interaction with victims off base, in the future it is best to ask before assuming or making generalizations. That is not meant to denounce your experience, but just point out that is not always the case. However, additionally victims of crime come in many shape and form and often those who commit crimes were previously victims themselves.

        I am not avoiding the question, I responded to your post with my thoughts on the subject. To reiterate I responded saying it does not change my support, but it does lead me to thoughts on re-entry. I think the loss of life, regardless of whose life it is is horrific and deserves attention, respect, and accountability.

        • As a resident and taxpayer of 25 years of the State of California, I think Mr. Malloy poses an important question. And, as someone who has witnessed two crimes within 1000 feet of my home in the last two weeks, I would like to answer. Ms. Sobel responded with the moral and ethical argument–whose lives do we value and how much? It seems clear you two have different answers to those questions. I will answer with a different perspective—an economic/policy one. Mr. Malloy asks us to decide whether SB261 is worth it if one person dies at the hand of someone released due to it. We should consider more ramifications. We need to choose between the positive and negative impact of all people released early due to SB261. He rightly identifies a hypothetical negative–a new crime committed by someone released. It is hard to put a value on this because the non-material costs are so great to the people involved and to society. Human life is dear. Regarding the benefits, fortunately SB260 has provided a pilot program–so far none of the 155 released have recidivated. Looking at the savings from this, 155 less people incarcerated annually at $62,000 per year equals $9,600,000 in savings per year for the State of California. That does not include the benefits of those released becoming contributing citizens as workers, taxpayers, volunteers, children, and fathers/mothers to their own kids, to name a few roles. Those contributions can be enormous. Sticking purely with the $9.6 MM in annual savings to the annual state budget, that is money that can be allocated in a variety of ways: education (a known preventive program for future crime), drug treatment (another known crime prevention program), tax reductions (a potential boost to the economy that could increase employment, reducing crime), or increased policing. Since the FBI reports that 1/3 of all murders go unsolved, perhaps more policing to solve and incarcerate unaccounted for perpetrators of murder would be a better use of that $9.6 MM? This is especially the case as no one released under SB 260 has been re-incarcerated. Moreover, a parole board (a group not known for being quick to release inmates) will have deemed all those released to be safe to return to society. In conclusion, Mr. Malloy asks a worthy and important question: what are the costs and benefits of SB261? Briefly, we cannot afford not to have a law like SB261.

    • Ms. Pollyanna Sobel reveals her bias: “I find that an offensive analysis on the value of the lives of those in prison and entirely contradictory towards the founding purposes of punishment.” My bias is toward the value of the lives of those who have not committed a crime. My bias is toward the value of the lives of the victims of Ms. Sobel’s precious criminals. Oh, and what do you perceive as “the founding purposes of punishment?” Ever talked to prisoners, Ms. Sobel? They’re all innocent. Ever talked to victims, Ms. Sobel? Have you ever left the walls of academia to see what it’s like on the streets, Ms. Sobel?

      • JohnMichael… yes of course they area all innocent. That’s your MO, to continue down your worn out narrative.. Have you visited a prison, a county jail and sat down and talked to men or women who are seeking help, taking accountability while incarcerated? Have you, sir? Keep doing what you are doing, your ignorance is right on par with your likeminded fellows.

        • Jason: your blindness to the huge disparity between the few who seek help and the vast majority who continue to re-offend until they are locked up until they are too old, too tired, and too weak to be a danger is pitiful.

  29. ARC firstly is a support network for those coming home from juvenile hall/jail/prison. We support each other like a family and provide resources and opportunities that will progress their lives. Secondly, we advocate for fair and just policies in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The case of someone coming home from SB260/261 committing a murder would totally undermine all of our heartfelt efforts but we still must see the bigger picture because there are hundreds and thousands of others that need our assistance that has proven to be successful on huge levels.

  30. Malloy, that’s a good question. My answer is yes it’s still worth it because one person shouldn’t spoil it for everyone else. That’s the exact reason we’re in this mess because we have been judges for the mess of those before us. I strongly believe that a person released from this enactment would be rehabilitated and intelligent and not dumb enough not to commit the same or similar acts that would land them back in the circumstance they were ae to overcome. But you bring up a new point of the need for good re-entry programs. This is exactly why we must continue to work hard and persistently with those coming home and provide them the necessary resources (housing, jobs, mental health, etc) to prevent them from returning to their old habits and behaviors and to better propel them to succeed in life and be of service to others. Shall such an instance occur, I would totally feel like crap but yes the program and our efforts is still worth it because there are thousands of others who desperately also need our help.

    • Mr. Pitre wrote: “ My answer is yes it’s (releasing someone who subsequently kills a person) still worth it because one person shouldn’t spoil it for everyone else. So, why don’t you carpool to Kathryn Seidle’s parents’ house with Jason from SJ, Conservative for Justice, and Ms. Sobel. Maybe the four of you can convince them that their daughter’s death is a good thing in your grand scheme of things.

      • JMOC, how about you carpool? Better yet, how about you actually think about your comments on this thread. Amazing how ignorant one can be. Clearly, we know what the context of this thread has been, yet, you and your racist cronies hide. Give me break.

  31. It is a real mystery as to how these self-annointed champions of justice came to view themselves so highly. Not only are they convinced they know best, but they are quick to take “offense” at anyone who dares disagree with them. What is it, I wonder, that so offends them? Is it:

    — the idea that some people view a law on the books, such as the sentence for a particular crime, as the product of a process of reasoning? No, it can’t be that, because they themselves are dedicated to seeing the provisions of a law on the books (SB 260) carried out to the letter. Certainly they’re not so arrogant as to think that only the laws they champion have any validity.

    — that some people are willing to accept that the judge and/or jury involved in the sentencing of an offender acted in good faith and made a decision based on the facts presented and an obligation to justice and public safety? No, it can’t be that, because what they are demanding of the rest of us is that we accept that their actions are based on factual evidence and they themselves possess a commitment to justice and public safety. Certainly they don’t put themselves above the jurors who were at the trial to hear the facts of the case, meet the victims (or at least the survivors), and witness the damage inflicted upon the community.

    — that they object to the idea that society has a right, especially when confronted with something as terrifying as violent gang crime, to do what it thinks is right and take action (such as enacting harsh sentencing policies) based on behavioral norms and perceived threat level? No, it can’t be that, because the political agenda they peddle today is based on behavioral norms (of incarcerated persons) and their own perception of the threat posed. Certainly they don’t think their concerns for guilty predators trump the public’s concern for its own safety.

    — that some people believe society is best served by incarcerating violent young men for enough years so that when released, if ever, their testosterone levels will have dropped (as science tells us) to less volatile levels. No, it can’t be that, because they so adore science that they’ve turned a single fact into a major political campaign. Certainly they can’t disrespect those choosing to rely on a different, and more certain, scientific fact.

    I guess the mystery to them taking so much offense will go unsolved. The facts certainly don’t support their case as being anything more than a particular perspective, but they behave, and react, as if the matter was settled beyond a doubt. Given that so many of them are connected with colleges, where spirited debate was once honored, I find it strange that they behave so much like religious fanatics.

  32. FinFan, we don’t view ourselves as so highly but maybe you do. & we’ve been depicted as low lives for so long why wouldn’t we perceive ourselves as higher than usual being that we have drastically beaten the odds. The same odds that your thoughts are aligned with. We are champions of justice for justice and only that no matter who it is. And yes we know best, or at least better than those lawmakers in certain aspects because we have personally lived the life as opposed to someone who hasn’t. If anything, we are the “real experts!”

    When it comes to gang crimes, majority of the kids who commit those crimes were long victims of society before they even decided to victimize someone else. We’re not subtracting the facts of murders and crimes of the likes, all we’re arguing is that juveniles/children/kids/youth/young adults should not be held to the same standards of full grown adults regardless how heinous a crime is. Yes, serving time is punishable by law and should be in many cases but many times these kids receive excessive amounts of time that doesn’t even match their crimes. Juvenile vs Adult equates to rehabilitation vs. punishment. If a person is rehabilitated he should at least receive a chance at redeeming his freedom after serving the adequate amount of time (not forever) so that he may return to his community a far off better person and contribute positively to the world.

    & yes we’re sticking to science of course because it is what solidifies and convicts our point! & you know that!

    You say we’re connected with colleges, yes! According to society they say we’ll never make it out of high school let alone college. So being that we come from impoverished environments and jailed circumstances, we are showing the world that we shouldn’t be thrown away because we can be of service to our families and communities with the right help that seemingly no one wants to give us!

    You find it strange we act like religious fanatics, that’s strange because why wouldn’t we thank God for being the great blessing he has been to us all. That’s what’s wrong with the world and government today, Morality vs. legality is what’s harming us. Just because something may be legal doesn’t mean it is morally correct.

    So thanks to your difference of opinions we will continue to be champions of Justice solely for that purpose! Hate on.

  33. FinFan, we don’t view ourselves as so highly but maybe you do. & we’ve been depicted as low lives for so long why wouldn’t we perceive ourselves as higher than usual being that we have drastically beaten the odds. The same odds that your thoughts are aligned with. We are champions of justice for justice and only that no matter who it is. And yes we know best, or at least better than those lawmakers in certain aspects because we have personally lived the life as opposed to someone who hasn’t. If anything, we are the “real experts!”

    When it comes to gang crimes, majority of the kids who commit those crimes were long victims of society before they even decided to victimize someone else. We’re not subtracting the facts of murders and crimes of the likes, all we’re arguing is that juveniles/children/kids/youth/young adults should not be held to the same standards of full grown adults regardless how heinous a crime is. Yes, serving time is punishable by law and should be in many cases but many times these kids receive excessive amounts of time that doesn’t even match their crimes. Juvenile vs Adult equates to rehabilitation vs. punishment. If a person is rehabilitated he should at least receive a chance at redeeming his freedom after serving the adequate amount of time (not forever) so that he may return to his community a far off better person and contribute positively.

    & yes we’re sticking to science of course because it is what solidifies and convicts our point!

    You say we’re connected with colleges, yes! According to society they say we’ll never make it out of high school let alone college. So being that we come from impoverished environments and jailed circumstances, we are showing the world that we shouldn’t be thrown away because we can be of service to our families and communities with the right help that seemingly no one wants to give us!

    You find it strange we act like religious fanatics, that’s strange because why wouldn’t we thank God for being the great blessing he has been to us all. That’s what’s wrong with the world and government today, Morality vs. legality is what’s harming us. Just because something may be legal doesn’t mean it is morally correct.

    So thanks to your difference of opinions we will continue to be champions of Justice solely for that purpose!

    • It was enlightening to have in attendance at our InsideOUT Writers class at Kern Valley State Prison today, the 1st Vice President of the California State Sheriffs’ Association. He expressed honest reservation about paroling someone on his watch who could re-offend. But yet, he was encouraged by what he heard that all of these students – some of who are SB260 eligible – would overcome his reservation and succeed.

  34. JKSOCAL deserves an award for contributing, in his exchange with Pete Malloy, what may be the most patronizing and duplicitous series of comments ever posted here. Posturing as if armed with genuine and pertinent evidence contradicting Malloy’s comments, JKSOCAL has not only erected a straw man to refute, he has stroked it in a manner that is downright indecent.

    Confronted with Malloy’s reasonable question regarding the very real risks associated with SB 260, JKSOCAL misrepresents the legitimate question as being an “assumption” and does so in a most condescending manner (“I am sure we are aware of this fact, follow me?”). Addressing the issue of risk and response has nothing to do with making an assumption, it is, in fact, a fundamental component of police tactical training. He then, using a line of logic more typical of the concussed, questions the legitimacy of Malloy’s position on the issue by linking it to a dubious and politically-motivated charge made against SJPD.

    Were JKSOCAL a law enforcement officer of even the lowest caliber he/she would know that police departments, being favored targets of political operatives, are always under investigation, and furthermore, that being under investigation is meaningless up until the time that actual wrongdoing is uncovered. That he would, absent compelling evidence, even consider the existence of disproportion in an enforcement statistic to be synonymous with “targeting minorities” identifies him as either a game player or fool, for anyone who knows anything about law enforcement knows that disproportion is unavoidable (or does this self-identified “professional” think the gender imbalance in arrests and conviction rates is the result of targeting?).

    That JKSOCAL would even suggest that the parole of violent convicts is “essentially a corrections matter” also reveals him as a fraud. It has long been standard practice that local law enforcement be notified of high-risk parolees, and every cop who truly cares about public safety makes it a point to keep abreast of such things.

    Lastly, that JKSOCAL would equate the politically-motivated, self-serving statements of law enforcement administrators with facts is laughable. Surely he understands that any police commander who would make such a damning statement about those under his/her command without having a few scalps to display leaves the sentient observer with no choice but to conclude that either his words mean nothing or they do mean something and he/she is an incompetent. Police commanders are expected to control their subordinates by using the very real authority they have over them — not their accessibility to a podium and microphone.

    I suspect that somewhere along the line, someone misled JKSOCAL into thinking himself intelligent (just as someone misled Alton Pitre into thinking he can write). Whoever it was, that is the person at whom JKSOCAL should aim his wrath, and not the likes of a thoughtful and committed public servant like Pete Malloy.

    • Mr. Fin Fan, I represent a local agency which has been working for decades to stop practices that you are quick to dismiss. But you knew that already since your dismissive comments seems to align with your intellect.

      • Martinez SJ wrote: “I represent a local agency which has been working for decades to stop practices…” It must be frustrating to have so little success relative to our huge prison population. Rather like being an oncologist—even after long, painful, nauseating, and expensive chemotherapy, and/or radiation, or surgery—so many die, so few survive.

  35. Frustred Fin Fan. You know darn well the validity of the audit findings referenced. No conspiracy theories please. Do your homework. There is decades of evidence. Yes, indeed, you are correct, LEO involvement at a BPH hearing is essential, but clearly your assumption missed the point to the separate roles. What you see at the “beat level” is not witnessed at the corrections level–decades later from point of arrest. So yes, Mr. Pete Malloy, can have his input based on his perceptions from decades earlier. But what is Mr. Malloy or yourself for matter left with when a decision is made against your perceptions? Any review of your responses reveal a clear pattern of… well, no need to go down that path.

    • > feel free to READ some of my PUBLISHED OP-EDS if you haven’t already!

      Mr. FinFan:

      Don’t bother. No need to punish yourself with Mr. Pitre’s gassy and vain social twaddle.

      > And to “FRUSTRATED FINFAN” your statement, “Were this 1850, young Mr. Mendoza and his hoodlum “family” would’ve been treated to what they deserved: a necktie party,” was a very racist remark.

      Once a progressive drops the “racism” dime on you, there is no possibility of rational dialogue.

      You’re done.

      Once you’ve been slimed:

      1. Anyone who agrees with you becomes a “racist”;
      2. Denying that you’re a “racist” just proves that you have a guilty conscience about being a “racist”.

      Time to let go and consign Pitre’s solipisstic musings to the deep, empty vastness of the internet.


    If one’s intellect were defective from where would one get the insight necessary to comprehend the erroneous nature of one’s thinking? Tell you what, why don’t you pose that question to your agency clients and coworkers (use spray paint if you think it will help) and whatever time they spend on mulling it over will be less time they spend ruining this city.

    • Frustrated Fin Fan, we know who you are. Your views are outdated and San Jose has changed. Go ahead, sit on your porch and condemn us with your racist perceptions.We know your kind. No sir, you are ruining our city.

  37. This is the only country in the world that I am aware of whereby the prisoners run the prisons. It has become a right of passage to enter the penal system. Every black, white and mexican gang, to my knowledge, has either started in a Ca., Texas, Chicago or N.Y. prison. Then these fine folks commit a crime to get back into the system for recruiting purposes. Everyone needs to take a view at the prisons in other countries. I suggest Siberia. No KID wants to be within miles of those real prisons and there is no communication. Gee, I wouldn’t want to deprive these American prisoners of their “Civil Rights”, the same rights they deprived of their victims. Of course everyones view point on the subject depends on personal experiences, kind of like terrorism. We need to take control of the prison population!

    Secondly, bring back the death penalty! I am so tired of hearing about the pharma companies not getting the end of life drugs correctly so the executed experiences too much pain !?! We have assisted suicide in Oregon and soon in Ca. Why can’t these fine folks that have been on death row for 10-50 years simply be given a glass of water a long with the two meds that will let them sleep forever?
    Again, I don’t want to tread on these prisoners “Civil Rights”. Why do people think the death penalty came about in the first place??? It was not simply to let protesters conjugate outside of San Quentin on the day of execution. But, again one’s opinion is only a reflection of personal experiences.
    This is known in America as a “deterrent”, not an incentive to re-enter the penal system to recruit more like minded individuals.

  38. Hey KB, bit out of sync with reality;, but our community needs voices such as yours; light is shed on the ignorance.

    • Martinez from SJ: I guess Edward James Olmos must be an ignorant racist, too, eh? The prison life he portrayed in “American Me” is as accurate and relevant today as it was in 1992. You and your ilk wring your hands and beat your breasts and wail over the few rehabilitation successes out of the 70,000 incarcerated in California alone, yet their victims have no place in your deluded universe

  39. Life’s Lessons (as explained by “progressives”)

    A significant number of our state prison inmates are there because they were treated by the courts as adults for violent crimes committed when juveniles, and about this situation self-described progressive thinkers contend:

    A — that a significant number of these inmates committed their crimes due to the hardships of their environment (broken homes, parental neglect and/or drug abuse, destructive influences within the family, gangs in the neighborhood, etc.) coupled with their age-related faulty decision-making and poor impulse control.

    B — that faulty decision-making and poor impulse control affects affects all young people, not just those who commit violent crimes.

    C — that the hardship elements that, in part, drove these young people to commit murder and other violent crimes, are largely due, not to defects in the character of the people involved, but to the racism of American society.

    D — that neutralizing the impact of these two intransigent components (hardship environments and immature brains) requires the unique talents and perspectives of convicts who, when young, were themselves led to crime by them.

    E — that the hugely disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics arrested and convicted for committing violent crimes is the product of racial profiling by the police and courts.

    Oh, brilliant teachers, I have a problem with…

    A — if hardships and immature brains = violent crime, why is it the rule, rather than the exception, that similarly disadvantaged black and Hispanic young people don’t commit violent crime? Statistics prove that the majority behave like typical teenagers. And further, why is it that violent crime rates among other ethnic groups, equally disadvantaged, are so low? It looks to me as if there is some other force at work here… could it be that our ancestors were right about bad seeds?

    B — when it comes to studying the brains of young people, the best that neuroscience can do is provide a physiological explanation for the very behavioral norms (and abnormalities) that parents and others have been observing and dealing with for thousands of years. Science that confirms something that is already known hardly qualifies as a reason to change how we react to it. Such knowledge is not without limitations, as was made obvious when discovering the chemistry of the skunk’s spray did nothing to alleviate the impact of its stink.

    C — if racism causes broken homes, parental neglect and/or drug abuse, destructive influences within the family, gangs in the neighborhood, etc., how might we explain the familial and social success of the ultra-civilized community of Japanese-Americans who were traumatized by racism during and after WWII? A similar question can be asked about Arab-Americans, Vietnamese-Americans, and Indo-Americans.

    D — to accept that the counsel of convicted murders and gang-bangers is required to neutralize the environmental elements to which SB 260 proponents identify as one of the two causes of youth violence, one would have to believe that these violent criminals are held in higher regard in these neighborhoods than are parents, teachers, religious leaders, and community activists — a situation consistent with the values of a lowlife, hopeless community. As for the other cause, to accept that these convicts can override brain chemistry (to which they attribute their own horrific behavior) one would have to be a moron.

    E — that some teenagers become killers and gangsters is an accepted fact (their victim’s are real), but if we accept the explanations offered by these progressive thinkers, the disproportionate presence of blacks and Hispanics in our prisons is simultaneously the result of two contradicting causes: the first, the environmental mix with their brain chemistry — around which their plea for leniency is based; and racial profiling by the police — the most widely claimed cause of minority incarceration. The former is offered without presuming the innocence of the incarcerated (the inmates admit their guilty), while the latter is built around the opposite presumption (the inmates claim to be innocent victims of a racist system). Citing either as a cause negates the other, which leaves us no choice but to conclude that both are wrong. Since the police are obviously not responsible for absent fathers, neglectful mothers, familial drug abuse, school failure, alcoholism, low cognitive function, or gang formation, they are clear of environmental culpability. Likewise, the cop on the beat has no power over the brain chemistry of local youth — another zero in the blame game. That leaves us with but one conclusion: the disproportionate stopping and arresting of the very people who are disproportionately responsible for street crime is a sign of good law enforcement, not racism, and it is representative of sound decision-making and mature brain processes. Not being able to understand this simple truth, or being emotionally unwilling to accept it, is the mark of low intellect and/or an immature, impulsive brain. Not being able to acknowledge it, despite having the facts and the ability (such as typically is the case with politicians and police administrators) is the mark of cowardice.

    • Frustrated Fin Fan. Yes, you are correct. The “cop on the beat” has no power over the brain chemistry. Unfortunately, your link to “stopping and arresting” fails since you are aware of the data. So you can be a “beat cop” forever. Leave it to the administrators to rectify the errors of your rogue ways.

  40. I am convinced that a childhood marked by poverty, physical, mental, and/or sexual abuse, and/or poor nutrition will mark a person; perhaps forever, perhaps not, but more likely until that person is too old, too slow, or too weak to do any serious harm to others any longer. So, if we are to accept this theory that juvenile criminals commit their crimes because their brains aren’t fully developed, how do the neuroscientists explain the behavior of adult thugs who have never been incarcerated as juveniles; for example, the many highly publicized thugs of the NBA and NFL? Let’s take Ray Rice, formerly of The Baltimore Ravens. Everyone with access to TV saw him sucker punch his then-fiancé in an elevator, which rendered her unconscious, after which he dragged her out of the elevator to their hotel room. Ray was 27 at the time, beyond the age when his brain should be fully developed, according to the neuroscientist theory. And the fool girl married him after that! Ray’s money bought him a skillful lawyer who found a liberal judge who sentenced Ray to the crushing burden of court-supervised counseling and a small fine (I believe it was $100!) Is it possible that some folks never develop those portions of their brain that control violent, anti-social behavior? Could that be one possible reason for the high recidivism rate? The neuroscientists, and the Pollyannas on this thread, will probably answer with a resounding NO! I’m not so sure. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was 26 when he raped a woman in a Lake Tahoe hotel, and 28 when he was again accused of sexual assault. Can the neuroscientists blame those acts on a youthful, undeveloped brain? And there’s Ray McDonald, formerly of the 49ers, who is close to 31, and who has been charged with a couple of sexual assaults and a gun matter in the last year. Jason Kidd of the NBA pled guilty to domestic abuse at the age of 28. A few years later his wife divorced him, claiming a continuing pattern of abuse. Ron Artest—a thug his entire NBA career—famously brawled with FANS in a Pacers-Pistons game in Detroit, at the age of 25. In short, I’m not buying the undeveloped brain excuse for violent/anti-social/criminal behavior. Do people deserve a second chance? Some yes, some no. Do they deserve a third, fourth, fifth…chance? No way! And if, as the neuroscientists theorize and the Pollyannas of this thread accept blindly as fact, juveniles commit crimes because their brains are not fully developed, how do they explain away the fact that tens of millions of juveniles with undeveloped brains in the US alone commit no crimes at all? Then there’s Bill Cosby.

    • So your brain at 15 is the same as your current age, now? Incredibly ignorant comments here.

      • SJ Jason: Very little of your entire body is the same at 15 as it is at 25. So do you believe that lack of full brain development in juveniles excuses murder, rape, and robbery? Since all the neuroscientists have told you true believers that 25 is the age where the brain is fully developed, how do they and you explain the actions of Ray Rice, Ben Rothlisberger, Ray MacDonald, Jason Kidd, and Ron Artest that I mentioned above, all of which acts were committed by those thugs at age 25 or older? And what about Cosby? Were their brains only developed to a 15 year old level? Do some people’s brains never fully develop? Brain development as one ages is a proven fact. It’s linkage to anti-social behavior is an unproven theory. Accepting that unproven linkage as fact is what’s “incredibly ignorant” , Jason.

        • JOHNMICHAEL…. you have missed the boat. Your references to the athletes has no bearing or relevance to the topic at hand. Where you err is in your physical brain development position. Psychosocial factors do contribute. It’s apparent you are of the class who much rather remain static rather than accept the change that is unfolding her in the State of California. Write your local, state, federal politician. Gripe to them what is happening at the hands of law and order parole board professionals. Remain ignorant sir.

          • I’m afraid it’s you who have missed the boat, Jason. The reference is to violent people over 25—the age at which your precious neuroscientists claim that the brain is fully developed, thus eliminating the immature brain excuse for crime. Physical or psychosocial, it makes little difference. The theory doesn’t hold water.

  41. Wow, I have not seen this much ink since the Little Saigon Camper protested at City Hall, with Reed for months.
    I recently learned that the USA has the largest incarcerated population of any other country in the world.
    Just by brushing over some of Fin Fan, and JMO comments, I got the impression both of you are upstairs at the loft popping corks. Racism has it’s own rewards, you will find many like thinkers to support you.
    Criticism, is a clear window, into the individual’s intellect, or lack of it. Then there is Bill Crosby.

    • Blacksmith, stick to your forge. It is not racist to note THE FACT that a large percentage of our prison population is black or Hispanic. And as we know, in California some 60% of them are repeat offenders. With the panoply of rights that persons accused of crime are given in this state, in this country, if you’re in the joint, it’s 99.99% certain that you’re guilty, regardless of skin color. The rare exception is troubling, of course, but it is truly a rare exception. Those few exceptions are the ones that get all the ink from the press and keep the dreamers’ hopes alive. On the other hand, if blacks and Hispanics are treated differently than whites and Asians by the legal system, at all or in any part of the system, that may very well be due to racism. It’s the disparate treatment that needs to be eliminated. Pulling the race card to excuse the 99.99% who are factually guilty doesn’t cut it, Gil. What about the guy who stabbed your son? Was he under 25? If so, do you think if they caught him that he should get special treatment because his brain was not fully developed, physically and/or psychosocially?

      • JMOC, naive. 99.9 %? LOL. Surely you know this because of ..? Nothing here is special treatment. So quit twisting the facts to your misguided perceptions. Incredible.

      • JMO, The thug that meant to kill my son, did not. however the Judge, Judge Ball, was a farcicle joke. This judicial system is in need of repair. It is guys like you and Judge Ball, that require fixing. You have been in abroken system for so long, you can not see that.


    It’s always prudent to watch your words around toddlers, as they will often take that first multisyllabic word they master and run it into the ground (this may explain the prevalence of “m-f” among serially imprudent people). I am reminded of this by your fixation on what you call “the data.” To you, what “the data” represents is a validation of things you’ve long felt or suspected, and, not being equipped with an analytical mind, it is no surprise to find you using it improperly and hanging on to it every bit as tightly as does a child to a big word.

    To a simple mind, data showing that males constitute 77 of every 100 homicide victims in America might be cause to scream loudly for something to be done. But no one is screaming loudly because that piece of information (Latin: datum) is not inconsistent with a widespread form of knowledge far more powerful than “the data,” that being our understanding of human behavior based on eons of experience living together. (As a testament of the power of this type of knowledge, it is a certainty there would be a national uproar were the gender rates of homicide victims reversed.)

    The data showing that SJPD stops blacks and Hispanics at a disproportionate rate are, on their own, insufficient to raise the concerns of any honest person with enough intelligence to be taken seriously. That is because the DISPROPORTION BECOMES PROPORTIONAL once other pertinent data are factored in, specifically, the rates of black and Hispanic involvement in violent crime, burglary, auto theft, and — this area’s most pressing crime problem, street gangs (85% of this county’s gang members are Hispanic).

    That said, our city is indeed threatened by one form of disproportion, and that is the increasingly large percentage of residents who lack the objectivity and intelligence necessary to sustain a civilized society.

  43. Frustrated Fin Fan. Please humor us. Of course your findings would reflect your perception. Thank goodness we have outside entities that can present findings (data) that generates interest from other levels of government. SO continue to subterfuge. You are doing a wonderful job.

  44. I heard George Lopez say, “There are enough Racists in this country to elect Donald Trump!” Will he send everyone back, including the African Slaves, if elected, and Right the wrongs, imposed upon our American Indians? Perhaps !!
    Get the Mayflower ready, Boys,You may be going on a trip!

  45. Village Black Smith,

    Since I see you’ve hurled an additional accusations of racism I’ll go against my better judgment and respond.

    When Charles Darwin watched, recorded, and formed insightful conclusions about the animals he encountered on his trip aboard the Beagle, no one accused him of speciesism. Likewise was the case when Jane Goodall watched, recorded, and formed objective conclusions about chimpanzees. Nor even when Margaret Mead watched, recorded, and formed asinine conclusions about native Samoans did she risk being branded a bigot. What all three had in common was their methodology: observation — careful watching in order to gain information. Observation was the founding practice of the scientific method.

    Every resident of this community is an observer, some prone to forming from their observations the correct conclusions (as did Darwin and Goodall), others prone to falling victim to the biased absurdities of Ms. Mead. But because of the efforts of local Mexican-American activists, in concert with the liberal media, progressives in academia, and the cowards holding office, the only observation-based conclusions that can be safely voiced here are those of the absurdly biased type. For example: though it is observed that Hispanics are overrepresented in school suspension and dropout rates, criminal gang membership, violent crime, domestic violence, etc., it is socially unacceptable to even suggest they themselves are responsible for their behavior. Instead, the blame must go to others — those arbitrarily branded by Hispanics as racists.

    This situation raises a number of questions. For instance, at what point in a Hispanic child’s life do his mistakes become the fault of racists? Does it start in kindergarten or is it later, with the arrival of bad grades and suspensions? Is it marked by the first time he’s drunk or high on PCP in middle school, or does racism come in only after he repeats the behavior? And how, exactly, do the racists turn him into a Norteño? Do they send out fancy brochures highlighting the excitement of that first gang-bang or drive-by? I, having earned my racist credentials by stating what is there for everyone to see, needs to know the precise point at which I should start feeling guilty.

    Over the years I’ve heard Hispanics place the blame for their problems on racist school teachers and staff (such as the ubiquitous counselor who steered them away from academics and towards vocational training), poor schools, racist cops, unlit streets, low expectations, low self-esteem, harsh criminal penalties, not enough Hispanic cops and teachers and judges, intolerance of their cultural traditions, and the list goes on. As a seasoned observer of Hispanic dysfunction, whose own early life was, nonetheless, greatly enhanced by Mexican-American men who equated personal responsibility with manliness, I can help but notice that Hispanics who’ve ignorantly adopted the blame game have done great injury to their community, depriving it of the unconditional approach to personal responsibility that has proven itself time and time again (e.g. elevating the local Vietnamese community to heights once thought impossible).

    One last comment — really a question for you Mr. Village Black Smith: is there one problem plaguing the Hispanic community for which they’ve publicly acknowledged responsibility? I’ve know of not one and, as a racist responsible for so much, I could use the break.

    • > Since I see you’ve hurled an additional accusations of racism I’ll go against my better judgment and respond.


      You’re trying to push a string.

      Step back and understand who you are talking to. You are talking to a tribalist.

      “Tribalism” is the original, primal ethos of human beings. It’s in everyone’s DNA.

      Some members of the species are “alpha males”, or “queen bees”, or “bull elephants”, the rest of the species are followers. But they recognize and know their species.

      Blackie is a tribalist. Whether an alpha male or a member of the pack, it doesn’t make any difference.

      His tribe is his reality. Anyone who fails to accept the centrality or primacy of his tribe is an enemy tribe.

      To a tribalist, a member or an ally of an enemy tribe is a “racist”.

      It’s nothing personal. Blackie’s DNA classifies everyone who is not in his tribal village as, ultimately, a “racist”.

      Civilization is based on higher order behavior which required overcoming tribalism, and LEARNING the benefits of delayed consumption (“saving”) and collaborative behavior with other humans (“trade”). Trade requires suppressing instinctive tribalist behavior.

      Bottom line: Blackie is still not there yet. He’s still a tribalist.

      Anteaters eat ants. It’s what they do.

      Tribalists judge people by their tribe, friendly or enemy. It’s what they do.

      You probably can’t change him.

    • Mr. Fin Fan, your comment is such a disgrace. Have you any sense? Your generalizations, your disdain for Hispanics raises concerns. Clearly, a new pair of glasses ought to be the course of action for your miserable perceptions of our community.

      • > Your generalizations, your disdain for Hispanics raises concerns.

        Mr. O’Connell:

        I assume your heritage is at least as much Irish as President O’bama (who is in fact at least 50 percent Irish due to his mother’s pristine Irish roots).

        Many of us are wondering how your Irish origins empower your superior judgmentalism regarding what Hispanics think about Donald Trump.

        The Hispanics I know like:

        A. truth
        B. gainful employment

        And Trump has been offering up more of both than just about any other candidate.

          • Sorry. I missed the part where you explained how you were empowered to make judgements for Hispanics.

            Could you run that by me again.

            And by the way, Senator Ted Cruz said some very nice things about Trump.

            I would guess that Cruz is probably more Hispanic than O’Connell – – – or O’Bama for that matter.

            Progressives just LOVE to hijack the voices of other ethnic groups and pretend to speak for them.

            Pete Fortney Stark once told Louis Sullivan that he was “a disgrace to his race”.


            Where was Stark put in charge of deciding who is or isn’t a disgraceful black? Did this happen at the Democrat convention?

            And who put Rachel Dolezal in charge of “advancing colored people” and speaking for them?

            What other ethnic groups are you going to speak for?

            When do they get to have a voice that isn’t yours?

            The relationship you have with Hispanics is that of a ventriloquist to a dummy.

            You really have a demeaning attitude toward Hispanics.

    • Frustrated Fin Fan,

      Give it a rest. I have been a SJ resident for decades. Our community does not need further divisions by your silly analysis and your humorous, extensive responses to the truths we all know as residents of our fine city. You have been exposed for who you are. Look in the mirror. Acknowledge that your viewpoints do not represent the hardworking residents of this city who much rather work for solutions rather than tired old scapegoating. Of course, you and your comrades rather live in your shortsightedness than be a part of solution.
      God Bless you.

      • > Frustrated Fin Fan,
        > Give it a rest.

        Progressives HATE it when other people have a voice.

        That’s why Donald Trump makes them crazy.

        Progressives have successfully castrated the so-called Republican “leadership” by having the dominant media blame them for government shutdowns, “war on women”, “hating immigrants”, etc., but huge numbers of Americans knew it was BS.

        Trump is now saying what Americans knew, and Republicans were too afraid to say, and Americans are saying FINALLY someone is speaking the truth.

        I heard some Republican establishment types discussing Trump on the radio, and they are possibly more frightened of Trump than Progressives are.

        The Republicans establishment is quite happy to have a continuing flood of Obama “stimulus” money goosing the stock market, and are afraid that too much “truth” will undermine the Obama big government narrative, and dry up the big crony capitalist donations (to Jeb Bush).

        The Republican establishment types even suggested that Trump was pandering to “nativists”.


        The central issue in the coming presidential contest is going to be “hate”, and the left wing is going to be shrieking at the top of its editorial and social media lungs that everything that Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Tea Partiers, etc. stand for is driven by HATE HATE HATE.

        And the Republican crony capitalist establishment will fall and line and meekly campaign, not on the basis of policy, but only on the claim that “we’re not them”.

        I predict an UGLY, UGLY campaign.

        Expect a tidal wave of demands that institutions, businesses, groups, all across the land be silenced for any real or imagined linkage to any purported “hate group”.

        This will be the Democrat strategy.

  46. Fin Fan and SJO, what bar in SJ do you two sit at and discuss your views? You two are a piece of work.

    • ADAM Smith,

      They do not know the error of their ways… the choose to stand in the dark, rather than seek the light of justice for our communities. God bless them.

      • > They do not know the error of their ways… the choose to stand in the dark, rather than seek the light of justice for our communities. God bless them.

        Wow! This is REALLY smug.

        You’re clearly sure that YOU’RE going to heaven.

        You can probably stop going to church now.

          • > .. we don’t walk in the darkness with your disparaging views. Thank God.


            Who’s you favorite televangelist? You sound to me like a Tammy Faye Bakker person.

            Do you and Tammy believe that Democrats have a better chance of going to heaven than normal people?

            How about Republicans who are bipartisan? Do you think being bipartisan will help at least a few Republicans get to heaven?

        • SJSOUTH… seek repentance, no political ideologies needed. Your quackery required medical assistance. God Bless You.

  47. Amazing, how when Donald trump, starts shooting from the hip, the rest of his followers, come out for the next dance.
    I can picture it , now. Trump and Ro, in Sillycon Valley. US engineers replaced by Indian H- 1B engineers. NICE !

  48. Bubble,

    Make no mistake, I wasn’t trying to reason with the blacksmith; I understood that reason had nothing to do with his stupid comments. My purpose was to expose him as just another member of the obedient herd who wield accusations of racism to shutdown people speaking truths they don’t like.

    And now, in a pathetic effort to defend his race, I see he’s added Donald Trump and Indo-American engineers into his mix of confusion.

  49. James O’Connell,

    Were you clutching your dolly when you typed out your criticism of me? If I’m a disgrace, if I lack sense, if my generalizations cause you concern, then surely you should have no problem exposing the many errors I must have made to anger you so. Maybe I am wrong, maybe the trauma of my childhood is to blame for my miserable perceptions, or, perish the thought, maybe it’s my brain chemistry? If help is what I need, and reason and logic can’t do the job, then please, someone send me a liberal!

    • Frustrated Fin Fan, oh yes, I sure was “clutching my dolly,” Why expose a truth that has already been proven by your diatribes? Perhaps your traumas have contributed to your perceptions, seek professional help. Perhaps your dopamine, serotonin levels have contributed to a chemical imbalance? Please seek the assistance of a qualified medical healthcare professional. No need for liberals to help you, what you clearly need is professional intervention!

  50. Jack Stephan,

    Thank you for awakening me to my sins. I was, of course, wrong to take offense when I was called a racist for citing crime statistics, just as I was foolish to think that I (as a member of society) was without fault for the vicious criminal acts of black and Hispanic juvenile offenders. How could I have failed to realize that it is the reasoning processes of people like me, and not the dysfunctional behavior of certain groups, that makes for the very real divisions in this community (such as those so glaringly in evidence on a real estate map).

    As for god having ever blessed me, I don’t know, but he sure didn’t make me a lamb.

  51. Frustrated Fin Fan,

    For it is people like you who rather continue to divide rather than seek solutions to our community wide issues. Clearly, the calls of your written words being “racist” are by your own doing. God has blessed you whether you want to acknowledge it or not. Seek the help you need, we need all hands on deck to rebuild our community.

  52. Jack Stephan,

    Seek solutions? You mean like the half-century and trillions of dollars of solutions to close the divide between African-Americans and the rest of America? That you still think the solutions to their problems and those of the Hispanic community lie in the hands of others marks you as a man of great faith; just don’t let that faith take you into any of the major cities or many neighborhoods where the fruits of those solutions hang rotten and poisonous.

    Seek help? I’m not the one who rejects the idea that blacks and Hispanics possess the ability to solve their own problems, or proposes the ridiculous notion that their salvation can only come from obsequious others. From my chair, the real racists are those who insist that these two groups, and these alone, must be allowed to endlessly rewrite the book on assimilation, silence every critic, and use the power of government to force others to financially support and socially accept their destructive and dysfunctional lifestyles.

    • > Thanks SJSouth we knew you were what you disdained. Thanks for confirming

      Oooooh! Owwwww!

      Defeated in a battle of wits by an Irish ventriloquist who can fake Hispanic voices.
      My public school education failed me.

      By the way, have you ever asked any Hispanics if they think you’re good enough to lead the world in pity for Hispanic victimhood?

      Some of the Hispanics I know would just as soon do it themselves without your patronizing.

  53. Yes, SJSouth we have worked together— but you know what, ignorance is key for you when you have no clue. Hispanics? C’mon now… Surely that GED helped you?

    • O’Connoll:

      > Hispanics? C’mon now… Surely that GED helped you?

      Yup. Hispanics.

      You know, the Hispanics whose voices you have co-opted.

      > Your generalizations, your disdain for Hispanics raises concerns.

      By the way, do you know of any Hispanics who are advocating for the dignity and the human and civil rights the Irish? It is much, much harder for an Irish person to gain entry to the U.S, than for a Hispanic.

        • > Brother I don’t know how you have the stamina to keep trading blows with these folks.

          I should probably take my own advice and remind myself that these people are incorrigible and uneducable.

          Conventional Socratic rationality has no effect on them. They are tribalists, and truth is what their tribal shaman says it is.

          • > They are tribalists, and truth is what their tribal shaman says it is.

            Funny you mention that. The shaman has recently declared “Rent Control is Good!” Meanwhile there are literally dozens of articles that give a play by play on how rent control has helped gentrify LA and SF.

            I could post links all day long, and the tribalists just can’t see it… Are they blind? Are they stupid? Do they think other members of the tribe will think they’re cool for repeating “Rent Control is Good!”

            Funniest response I got from somebody was, “Councilmember Peralez thinks it’s good!” If I all have to do to be a councilmember is get a bunch of tattoos, then take my shirt off in front of Nancy Pyle, Judy Chirco, etc at the arts center in what they consider “Theater”

            No.. I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t cheapen myself like that. Meh, starting to go off tangent. No offense to Peralez intended.

          • >RMC, thanks for the afternoon laughs…

            Meh, Don Rocha did the same play, same act (less tattoos, same amount of shirt off, and I’m sure he was equally titillating to Pyle)

            I know you and SJO are sort of trading blows right now, but I think you guys just caught each other on a bad day. I don’t always agree with him, but I try not to devolve discussion into insult with anyone. He actually makes some pretty good points sometimes although he does always do it in a somewhat cryptic manner.

            If SJI was the show Batman, he’d certainly be the Riddler. He’s become a fabric of the whole San Jose political scene…

            That being said, whatever viewpoints we hold near and dear can’t exist without the opposite. Light cannot exist without dark, wet cannot exist without dry, and as much as you see him as “anti” your POV, your POV can’t exist without his.

            I think you guys should call a truce, go sit in a tent and drink tea while discussing the rules of the battlefield.

      • Your reference to Hispanics is offensive-. If you were from ST you would know what I am talking about — dream on sir, dream on

  54. No sir said the elder to the youngster who desired to ride the donkey. SJSOUTH the opinions you have shared here are outdated and you know darn well they are. Truth? Come out from your cave and step into reality.

  55. This debate will never be resolved, so I bid you adieu with the following, which has been attributed to Churchill, Disraeli, Edmund Burke, and others: “If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain.”

  56. I’M very surprised you never showed this horrible sides of yourselves before. You practiced Law for how many years? Fin Fam. what did you go through to become so gifted at filth mongering.
    This blog is REALLY, the Good , The Bad, and The Ugly. WOW !

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