We applaud the decision by California Governor Jerry Brown to allow the state parole board’s approval of Sara Kruzan’s release to proceed.

Sara was convicted at the age of 17 of killing her abusive pimp, whom she said sexually abused her and started grooming her to work as a prostitute when she was only 11. She initially received a life-without-parole sentence. Since going to prison, Sara has been a model prisoner, earning the respect of prison staff, winning the woman of the year award in the honor dormitory where she lived and earning an associate’s degree.

Sara’s life and story illustrate our country’s need to reform the ways it holds children accountable when they are convicted of serious crimes. As the U.S. Supreme Court has said, we must consider their capacity for change and rehabilitation, as well as a variety of other factors, including their age at the time of the crime, their history of abuse, and the role of adults in the crime.

In several decisions in the last 10 years, the Supreme Court has ruled that children are different from adults and should not be subject to the nation’s harshest penalties. A variety of policy and opinion leaders have voiced their support for Sara’s release and for reform of our country’s harsh youth justice policies. These include The New York Times, George Will, Pat Nolan and Newt Gingrich, and others.

We will honor Sara during our annual Healing & Hope awards reception on November 13.

As we look to abolish life without parole for all youth, we are inspired by Governor Brown’s decision to allow the release of a woman who was told at age 17 that she would die in prison, but who has since shown remorse and maturity.