June 5, 2008

Sacramento Bee Article re L.H. Settlement

California Settlement Extends Adult Parollee Rights to Juvenile Offenders

By Andy Furillo  |  Sacramento Bee  —

Inmates rights lawyers and the state settled a lawsuit Wednesday that will grant to juveniles parolee rights already extended to adults.

Under terms of the federal court deal, youthful offenders will have the right to a lawyer during parole revocation proceedings, to a probable-cause hearing 13 days from the time a hold was placed on them and to a full revocation hearing within 35 days.

Another key element of the agreement will limit juvenile parole revocations to one year. Juvenile offenders had been subjected to potentially indeterminate terms on parole violations that could have kept them incarcerated until they were 25 years old.

The settlement came in a case filed by plaintiffs in September 2006 against the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento ruled in favor of the plaintiffs earlier this year.

The case mirrors the 2003 settlement in the so-called Valdivia case that established parolee rights for adults.

“This is a case that shouldn’t have happened,” said plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Bien, saying that the Valdivia case should have established the rights for the juveniles as well without rancor. “It took far too long and the litigation was far too hard fought. There was just a tremendous delay in doing what everyone knows needs to be done.

“Now we start the hard part, which is implementing this,” Bien added.