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New Bill That Could Give Juvenile Offenders a Second Chance Passes the California Legislature

Staff Report

In many ways, Frankie Guzman exemplifies the American spirit; he has worked hard to get where he is today, he holds degrees from both UC Berkley, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and, as a lawyer acting for the National Center for Youth Law, he has performed his duties with diligence and dignity. Consequently, he has been involved in a number of major changes to the state’s criminal justice system. Those who know Guzman know him to be extraordinarily professional and pragmatic, two skills required to navigate the murky waters of local government.

Frankie Guzman

Frankie’s interest in overseeing amendments to the state’s current criminal justice processes extends beyond his professional considerations, as noble as they are. If you were to run a simple background check on this man, a man who has proven himself to be an upstanding member of the community and of value to his state and country, you would see that he has a felony conviction attached to his name. When Frankie Guzman was 15, he was convicted of robbery. While he has managed to succeed and turn his life around, he knows better than most just how difficult mistakes made as teenagers can make an adult’s life. Guzman’s conviction has meant that in the past he has been ineligible for many government jobs, despite of his qualifications, and has even been denied housing despite having kept a clean slate for a number of years.

SB 312

There is no doubt in Guzman’s mind that he has been treated differently because of his conviction and that many other people are currently going through the same thing. Frankie is hoping to make a difference to the many Americans who struggle in life because of a juvenile criminal record through a new senate bill which he has co-authored SB 312, which has now passed through the Californian State Legislature. The bill paves the way for people to have court records for crimes committed before the age of 17 sealed.

The bill was initially proposed by Democratic senator Nancy Skinner. Her aim was to make the system fairer and to give young people a real chance to turn their lives around.

After college, Guzman began looking for housing on his own, but his conviction was a constant barrier. It wasn’t until a landlord rang Frankie to express concern about his conviction that he realized that it was showing up on background checks.

Proposition 21

The reason that Frankie Guzman’s conviction was a matter of public record was because of a measure passed in 2000: Proposition 21. Prop 21 increased the penalties faced by young offenders and ended the sealing of juvenile records. Reversing Prop 21 required a two-thirds majority in both houses of the state legislature; that majority was secured and the bill has been sent to the governor’s office.

Criminal Justice Degrees

Frankie Guzman is an inspiring man. If the work he is doing sounds like something you would like to do, then an online CJ degree, such as that offered by the University of Cincinnati could be a good choice. An online masters in criminal justice teaches students about the inner workings of local government, and can help you really make a difference.

This new bill could transform the lives of thousands of young people who otherwise would be denied the opportunities they need to achieve their full potential in later life.