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Rapper Common Lobbies Legislators On Juvenile Justice Measures

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Oscar- and Grammy-award-winning rapper “Common” was on a tight schedule Tuesday, in an uncommon setting—the state Capitol.

“There’s a lot of progress being made,” he said.

Progress, he says, in pushing lawmakers to reform the state’s criminal justice system, just a day after drawing thousands to his free concert promoting the cause.

“We’re hoping to get prison reform in the right place, so juveniles won’t be sentenced to life without parole,” he said.

Under the bill Common’s referring to, juveniles would be eligible for parole hearings after 25 years of incarceration.

But it’s the other measure attached to it that’s raising a red flag for law enforcement and district attorneys. It would allow minors to consult with legal counsel before waiving their Miranda rights or confessing to crimes.

“It’s going to hamper investigations, said President of the California District Attorney’s Association Todd Riebe.

Riebe says there’s a reason Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill last year.

“You may have a suspect… maybe the person who committed the crime …it may not be the person who committed the crime, but we’ll never be able to know that directly from them because we’ll have to procure an attorney for them,” he said.

But for the bill’s author, Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angles), it’s a common- sense update to a criminal justice system with racial bias.

“We have to have a meaningful conversation about what role bias and over-policing plays on who gets caught and who doesn’t, quite frankly,” she said.

Both bills were passed in the Senate and head to the Assembly over the next couple weeks.

More from Lemor Abrams
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