Governor Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills Sunday that limits how minors are prosecuted for petty crimes and even serious ones like murder and rape.
One of the bills, SB 1391, prevents prosecutors from trying a juvenile in adult criminal court for acts committed while they were 14 or 15 years of age.
The new bills passed have many upset but one family in particular is worried about the consequences that could result from SB 1391.
Dan Middleton is the grandfather of Madyson Middleton, who was murdered in 2015 in Santa Cruz when her neighbor, Adrian Gonzalez, allegedly lured the 8-year-old into his mother's apartment where he then raped and killed her.
Middleton says not a day goes by where he doesn't think about his 'Chatty Maddy' and is concerned how the new law will affect the case against Gonzalez who was a teen at the time of the murder. Gonzalez plead not guilty to the crimes in May.
A judge last year said Gonzalez would be treated as an adult given the seriousness of the crimes.
“He had experts on the stand that said he has all the indications of a psychopathic, violent, sexual deviant predator,” Middleton contended.
However, supporters of the law say juveniles "should have the opportunity to be rehabilitated for their crimes."
Ted Fairbanks, an attorney with the Santa Cruz Public Defender’s Office said, “For a person who’s 15, when he does a crime, no matter how bad it is, you ought first to go get the treatment in therapy available through the juvenile system, rather than being locked up for 50 years to life with a bunch of adults."
Middleton said he sympathizes with the kid criminals, but disagrees when it comes to the severity of Gonzalez’s crimes.
“I feel sorry for kids that have problems, get into trouble, but up to a certain point,” Middleton told CBS Los Angeles. He says people like Gonzalez are just too dangerous to release when they turn 25 and that he’s working with the families of other victims to get the law amended or repealed through Maddy Child Angel of Santa Cruz, a nonprofit dedicated helping “prevent child abduction, abuse and violence by predators known by the potential victim.”
“We wanna protect our communities, whether it’s from this fellow or anybody else,” Middleton says.