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brownmics.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation requiring special parole hearings for prisoners who were prosecuted as adults and sent to prison for crimes they committed as juveniles, his office announced late Monday.

Senate Bill 260, by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, will make inmates imprisoned for crimes they committed before turning 18 eligible for parole during their 15th, 20th, or 25th year of incarceration, depending on the severity of their sentences.

The bill excludes certain sex offenders, people sentenced under the state's "three strikes" law and those sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

The bill was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, Prison Law Office and Human Rights Watch, among others. Supporters argued existing law fails to afford people given lengthy sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles a chance to demonstrate rehabilitation and maturity.

The bill was opposed by many law enforcement groups, who said the new hearing process could lead to the release of dangerous offenders. According to a legislative analysis, opponents objected specifically to a provision of the law requiring the state Board of Parole Hearings to give "great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the prisoner in accordance with relevant case law."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to members of the press on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua



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