A chance of parole for juveniles sentenced to life

By Lynn Graebner, California Health Report

Brian Warth was behind the wheel in a drive-by shooting in 1992. At 16 years old, he was tried as an adult and sentenced to 16 years to life for his role in a murder and attempted murder. The 15-year-old boy who actually pulled the trigger was tried as a juvenile and was paroled after about eight years.

After 16 years in prison, Warth was paroled in 2008. He made the most of his life on the inside, taking college and trade classes and spending 10 years as a prison pastor.

Today, as assistant pastor at Light & Life Christian Fellowship, a Methodist church in North Long Beach, his story has inspired kids and adults across the state. He’s also using his position to advocate for the California Fair Sentencing for Youth Act, Senate Bill 9, which would give prisoners who were sentenced as juveniles to life without parole a small chance of release.

Warth and his accomplice were lucky compared to many juveniles convicted of murder in California. As of last year, 295 inmates who were convicted as juveniles were serving life without parole, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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