The bill is designed to close a loophole that allows students to
be incarcerated if a judge finds they have violated a court order to
attend school or that their truancy qualifies as contempt.
“Our efforts will help ensure due process and enhance public safety
by giving youth a better chance of not being condemned to a downward
spiral of criminal justice system involvement later in life,” said
the bill's author, Democratic state Senator Mark Leno of San
The bill is one of several efforts to try to break a cycle of
lawbreaking and imprisonment faced by many in disadvantaged
Last week, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti voiced support for a new
state law barring public agencies from refusing job applications
from people convicted of crimes, and pushed city leaders to broaden
the measure to private-sector jobs and housing.
A bill making its way through the California Legislature would
eliminate a prohibition against certifying people as nurse's aides
if they have been convicted of felonies including murder, extortion
and sex crimes.
Leno's measure passed the State Assembly's public safety committee
alongside two other measures authored by the senator, one that would
permanently seal past criminal convictions of juveniles who meet
certain educational benchmarks and another that highlights wrongful
The truancy measure was passed by the state Senate in April, but it
must still pass the Assembly before it can be sent to Governor Jerry
[to top of second column]
Supporters argued that incarcerating truant youths created a
so-called school-to-prison pipeline that can lead to a lifetime in
the criminal justice system. Last year, 121 minors were detained for
truancy, some of them multiple times, according to the Youth Law
Center. The San Francisco-based center represents minors in the
foster care and justice systems.
“Criminalizing truancy ... fails to address the underlying issues
that cause young people not to attend school,” said the center's
argument for the bill. “This bill will eliminate loopholes that ...
have been used to imprison young people for contempt or violation of
a court order in relation to failure to attend school.”
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Peter Cooney)
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