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New law lets young adult offenders serve time in juvenile detention

Three-year pilot program will give 18- to 21-year-olds chance to access educational, support services

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law Friday authorizing a three-year pilot program that will give young adult offenders the chance to access educational and support services in the juvenile justice system, a spokeswoman said.

Senate Bill 1004 allows five counties, including Alameda, Napa and Santa Clara, to provide this assistance to low-level, nonviolent felons aged 18 to 21, instead of serving time in county jails with adults.

Those offenders who meet these requirements and don't have a history of crime would serve no more than a year in a juvenile justice facility and have their offense expunged from their record if they complete the program, according to Leslie Guevarra, a spokeswoman from the office of the bill's author, State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.

The law will take effect Jan. 1 and run until Jan. 1, 2020.

"While this bill represents an innovative approach to addressing low-level youthful offenders, there are also other avenues worth exploring," Brown said in a statement.

"While this is a promising start, I encourage the legislature to look beyond deferred entry of judgment and explore options such as non-custody based diversion where appropriate," Brown said.

Extending juvenile detention facilities to certain young adults will allow younger offenders to access mental health treatment, vocational training and education, programs that Guevarra says "address the needs of young adults or the risks they face, including exposure to older and possibly experienced offenders."

The law will terminate in 2020, pending further legislative action.

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