AHA News |  

AHA Supports California SB 9 - The Fair Sentencing for Youth Act

The following letter has been sent to California Gov. Jerry Brown by AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt.

 

American Humanist Association
1777 T Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20009
Telephone: 202 238 9088 Fax: 202 238 9003
Email: info@americanhumanist.org

August 23, 2012

The Honorable Edmund Brown
Governor of the State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Support for SB 9 – The Fair Sentencing for Youth Act

Dear Governor Brown:

My name is Roy Speckhardt, and I am executive director of the American Humanist Association. I’m writing to you today to inform you of the AHA’s support of Senate Bill 9 and to urge you to support it as well by signing it into law. As a national organization, the AHA recognizes the importance of this bill in bringing California in line with the rest of the world.

The American Humanist Association is an educational organization that strives to bring about a progressive society where being good without gods is an accepted way to live life. We are accomplishing this through our defense of civil liberties and secular governance, by our outreach to the growing number of people without traditional religious faith, and through a continued refinement and advancement of the humanist worldview. Humanism encompasses a variety of nontheistic views (atheism, agnosticism, rationalism, naturalism, secularism, and so forth) while adding the important element of a comprehensive worldview and set of ethical values—values that are grounded in the philosophy of the Enlightenment, informed by scientific knowledge, and driven by a desire to meet the needs of people in the here and now.

Humanists believe that youth who commit crimes should be held accountable. However, when California condemns a young person to a life behind bars, it utterly disregards the human capacity for rehabilitation and ignores the very real physical and psychological differences between children and adults. Punishment should reflect the capacity of young people to change and mature. Senate Bill 9 would ensure that youth offenders would face severe punishment for their crimes while giving them a chance to work towards parole if they can show they have rehabilitated.

Law, science, and common sense all agree: teenagers are different from adults. Nationally, people under the age of 18 cannot use alcohol or cigarettes, sign a lease, join the military, or vote. Our laws recognize that they are not mature enough for these responsibilities. Yet, in California, youth are sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Senate Bill 9 provides for review of youth offender cases after the individual has served a substantial amount of time in prison.

Penalties for serious crimes can still be meaningful without being a death-in-prison sentence. Sentencing children to life in prison sends an unequivocal message to young people that they are beyond redemption. As a country, we should not be in the practice of discarding our youth for life and instead provide motivations and opportunities for rehabilitation and the potential to return to their communities as productive members of society. If youth were given the chance to re-enter society, they may be more inclined to better their lives behind bars. SB 9 allows judges to reevaluate the individual and determine whether or not he or she has demonstrated growth and eligibility for parole.

The United States is the only country in the world that imposes life without parole on youth under the age of 18. In the U.S. there are over 2,500 cases of youth sentenced to life without parole and there are approximately 300. In the rest of the world, there are none. This extreme punishment is a violation of international law and fundamental human rights.

For these reasons, I support SB 9, and ask that you support this important piece of legislation.

Sincerely,

Roy Speckhardt

Executive Director
American Humanist Association

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday everyone!!! More comics at: http://hmn.st/1wOZhEE

4 hours ago

American Humanist Association

On June 19, 2014, Amanda Scott testified before the Mobile, Alabama, County Com...

7 hours ago

American Humanist Association

This is a 5-minute video of students and parents gathered on the football field...

11 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Caption this photo taken at the 2014 World Humanist Congress in Oxford, England...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

This video shows how some religious people react to homosexuality. When you put...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The newest issue of the Humanist Magazine is out! Take a look! Clay Farris Naff...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Jackson Public School District has agreed to cease including religious activ...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Dave Niose, Legal Director of the AHLC, has been featured on CBS46 in Atlanta, G...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Humanist Hour Podcast #113 out now! Jeremy Chappell talks about the “spiritu...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

This morning, the American Humanist Association issued a press release regarding...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why are some of the poorest regions in America also the most religious? A new st...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Listen up D.C., Maryland, and Virginia Humanists! Want to meet local free-thinke...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

While vandalism may not be the technique I would use to express my views, some...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

In his new Huffington Post article, Roy Speckhardt discusses prejudice and the k...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Sonja Eggerickx, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

We just got a nice donation from the AmazonSmile Foundation thanks to people lik...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association stands up for the rights of teachers of minori...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA Legislative Associate Matthew Bulger responds to some recent comments by U.S...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

We need more nontheistic politicians in the United States!

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday!! Here is a wonderful poem from Dan Moran. Check It Out!

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Well, I am not so sure how common this dilemma is, but it is interesting anyway!

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hooray! Florida's same-sex marriage ban struck down! Check it out! http://hmn.s...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

New evidence supporting the theory of evolution has been found in parasite ants...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is the newest episode of The Cartoon History of Humanism. Enjoy! Get TheH...

8 days ago