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Court rules California juveniles can have felonies reclassified

Having a felony conviction on your record, especially as a juvenile, can pose serious obstacles for future opportunities. It can get in the way of finding good housing, can prevent you from securing a stable job, and can lead to harsher consequences if you have another run-in with the law. Fortunately, a California appeals court ruled just a few weeks ago that juveniles can seek to have some felony convictions reclassified as misdemeanors.

The reason behind the change, known as Proposition 47, is cost and overcrowding. Fewer people in jail will limit the state's expense of housing inmates and help prevent prisons and jail from being crowded beyond capacity. While this initiative could certainly help in these areas, it may also help juveniles in our state who are convicted of crimes early in life.

The law will likely help keep juveniles out of prison. It may also help them when it comes to California's three strikes law, which lengthens prison terms for those who have prior felony convictions. By allowing young offenders to reclassify certain felonies as misdemeanors, they may be able to avoid harsh penalties should they run into trouble again -- a benefit that also keeps prison costs down.

Certainly, young people should not have their entire futures ruined for making one mistake. Instead, they should be given the opportunity to turn their lives around. Hopefully this new law will give them that opportunity.

Source: SFGate, "California court: Juveniles can have crimes reclassified," Sudhin Thanawala, July 23, 2015

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