For more than 40 years, PCJP has been relentlessly advocating for incarcerated people, providing vital parole workshops and courtroom representation and writing effective legislation that gives people who were once staring at the possibility of dying behind bars a chance at redemption. Our focus is on men and women sentenced to life-terms – many sentenced when they were juveniles 30 and 40 years ago, many sent away to die for defending themselves and their children from their abusers. Since 2008, PCJP has co-sponsored or written nearly every juvenile justice bill in California, impacting tens of thousands of lives.
Through the Years
Restoring parolees' right to vote
In California, nearly 50,000 people who are currently working, paying taxes, raising families and on parole cannot vote. Through the efforts of PCJP and many re-entry focused organizations, we hope to restore the right to vote to Californians on parole.
Youth access to rehabilitation
PCJP consulted and advocated for Senate Bill 1391 to prohibit 14- and 15-year-olds from being tried in adult court and sent to adult prison, ensuring that every young person has access to the rehabilitative services the juvenile system can provide.
Proof required to be convicted of murder
PCJP co-sponsors a Senate Bill 1437 to end California’s felony murder rule by requiring the prosecution to prove that a defendant killed or intended to kill to be convicted of murder.
Counseling for life-term youth offenders
PCJP, in partnership with Human Rights Watch and former inmates sentenced to juvenile life without parole, conducts workshops throughout the California prison system for every person sentenced to juvenile life without parole.
Youth offender parole hearings
PCJP co-sponsors Senate Bill 394 to provide Youth Offender Parole Hearings for juveniles sentenced to life-without-parole
Youth rights counseling
PCJP consults and advocates for Senate Bill 395 to provide counsel to children under the age of 16 prior to waiving their rights under Miranda law.
Extending parole eligibility
PCJP co-sponsors Assembly Bill 1308, extending youth offender parole eligibility to people who were 25 years old or younger when they committed their crimes.
Enhanced public safety, expanded rehabilitation
PCJP consults and advocates for Proposition 57, which was approved by more than 65% of voters. The proposition strengthened California’s justice system and increased public safety by expanding rehabilitation in prisons and improving the process by which youth can be tried as adults.
Youth-offender parole eligibility
PCJP consults and advocates for Senate Bill 261 to create youth-offender parole eligibility to people who committed crimes as youth.
Juvenile offender serving life first to be released
Edel Gonzalez, represented at his parole hearing by PCJP, is the first person sentenced to juvenile life without parole to be released through the California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act and SB 260.
Ensuring consideration for every youth offender
PCJP consults and advocates for Assembly Bill 1276 to ensure young people under the age of 22 at the time they enter prison are less likely to be placed on the most dangerous prison yards and are more likely to have access to rehabilitative programs and services.
Youth Offender Parole Process
PCJP co-sponsors Senate Bill 260 to create the Youth Offender Parole Process, which provides meaningful opportunity for release to children who were tried and sentenced as adults after 15, 20 or 25 years in prison.
Mary Jones, represented by PCJP students, is released from prison after serving 32 years for a murder committed by her abuser.
PCJP client Edel Gonzalez, who was sentenced to life without parole for a crime he committed at age 16, is the first person resentenced under the California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act.
California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act passed
The California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act, co-written and supported by PCJP, passes the California legislature and is signed into law by the governor, giving a second chance to men and women sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as children.
"Sin by Silence" bills drafted
PCJP drafts and consults on Assembly Bill 593 and AB-1593 — known as the “Sin by Silence Bills” after the documentary of the same name which features many PCJP clients. AB-593 expands habeas relief for those whose crime related to a history of battering. AB-1593 requires the parole board to give great weight to a history of battering in the parole process.
Client released on parole
Professor Michael Brennan and PCJP students win parole release for Elnora Francis after she served nearly 24 years for the 1984 murder of her abusive husband — a crime she did not commit.
PCJP expands to represent California inmates sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed as children.
PCJP advocates for Senate Bill 399 regarding juvenile life without parole sentences, which was a precursor bill to SB-9 (which ultimately passed in 2012).
Connie Keel released on parole after spending 29 years in prison for sitting in a car while her husband robbed and killed a shop owner. PCJP law student, Adam Reich, launches an aggressive social media campaign to help bring awareness to the injustices of her case.
PCJP lobbies for important expansion of penal code section 1473.5 to all prisoners convicted of any violent felony where expert testimony on “battered women’s syndrome” would have reduced their culpability.
PCJP partners with Convicted Women Against Abuse, an inmate-led group at the California Institution for Women, to pass penal code section 1473.5 creating habeas relief for survivors of intimate partner violence convicted of killing their abusive partner prior to the admissibility of expert testimony on “battered women’s syndrome.”
PCJP begins representing women serving life sentences for murder convictions at the California Institution for Women.
Professor Michael Brennan returns to USC to supervise the PCJP full-time.
PCJP launches as a clinic and begins to represent inmates at the all-male Federal Correctional Institute on Terminal Island.