TRACY (CBS13) — Parents are furious over a controversial bill Gov. Jerry Brown is considering signing into law. It would allow their children’s accused killers to serve less time.
Senate Bill 1391 prevents juveniles who are 15 years old or younger from being tried as adults.
Nicole Mendez is not only fighting for her son, Alfredo Mendez, but other parents suffering loss from what she calls senseless violence.
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“He was an amazing, outgoing kid. He was only 16,” she said.
“Dito” was his nickname. He was shot to death almost a year ago. The 15-year-old accused of his murder is being tried as an adult and could face 25 years to life in prison. But SB1391 could change that.
“He can get out at 25, and he can have kids and get married, have a whole life, and where is my son’s life? So I am angry,” said Mendez.
SB1391 would impact Mendez’s case and many others in California.
“This is just kind of giving people the right to say go murder, go burn, go do whatever,” she said.
Supporters of the bill say it gives young offenders a second chance. This latest version of the law puts a focus on rehabilitation over safety.
“It’s a symptom of the modern trend to believe that kids that are that young, of the age of 14 and 15 are probably not capable of really the kind of sophistication that would expect to be tried in criminal court,” said John Myers, professor, McGeorge School of Law.
Juvenile law experts say they understand both sides of the issue, but in the end, it’s up to the governor to decide.
“There are some very sophisticated 14- and 15-year-old gangbangers out there that are cold-blooded killers so I understand that if your child or loved one is killed by a gang member who happens to be 15 why you think its wrong, it’s a sympathetic argument,” he said.
Loved ones tell me they will continue educating people around the community and making phone calls to their representatives. The governor has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill.