Governor Brown Signs Landmark CPOC Sponsored Legislation to Assist Mentally Ill Youth in the Juvenile Justice System


SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, Governor Brown signed into law AB 1214 authored by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Santa Cruz), and sponsored by the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC), which will help address gaps in juvenile competency proceedings by promoting appropriate settings for youth deemed incompetent and creating clear processes and timelines for restoration of competency.

“This is a huge step for California’s juvenile justice system and for some of the most vulnerable youth in our system,” said Chief Jim Salio, President of the Chief Probation Officers of California. “California has been hailed as one of the leaders in the nation due to our success over the last decade in juvenile justice.  However, this was one area where California needed to do better.  Juvenile institutions are not the appropriate setting for long term care for mentally ill or developmentally disabled youth. It is increasingly important, in light of the myriad of research on adolescent brain development, that youth who have been determined incompetent are connected to services in the most appropriate setting and given the best chance to receive the treatment they need to build a healthy, productive, and law-abiding future.” 

Currently in California there are no laws and timelines for juveniles who are found incompetent to stand trial. Unlike the adult system where those deemed incompetent have a clear and structured process – a process that balances public safety with the treatment needs of the accused – no such clear process exists for juveniles deemed incompetent. Absent clear timelines governing the process, vulnerable youth can remain in juvenile institutions longer than appropriate in an effort to provide remediation services. AB 1214 will start the process of ensuring California give mentally ill and developmentally disabled youth in the juvenile justice system the same rights we afford adults in our criminal justice system by establishing clear timelines and processes relating to the determination of competency in court proceedings and the evaluation and delivery of remediation services for youth.

“Previous competency procedures for juveniles have neither improved public safety nor served youth in need of help,” said Assembly Member Mark Stone.  “This new law will improve the outcomes of youth and ensure that young people aren’t languishing in juvenile halls when they should be receiving remediation services.”