Frankie Guzman is a staff attorney at the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), where he works to end the practice of prosecuting children in California’s criminal justice system. Raised in a poor, mostly immigrant community plagued by drugs and violence, Frankie experienced his parents’ divorce and his family’s subsequent homelessness at age 3, the life-imprisonment of his 16-year-old brother at age 5, and lost numerous friends to violence. At 15, he was arrested for armed robbery and, on his first offense, was sentenced to serve 15 years in the California Youth Authority. Released on parole after six years, Frankie attended law school and became an expert in juvenile law and policy with a focus on ending the prosecution of youth as adults.
Frankie’s work has focused on improving data collection and analysis to better understand the impact that transfer laws have on youth, working with local courts and prosecutors to reduce transfers of youth, educating the public to raise awareness about the harms of transfer, and most importantly, coalition building to create a movement for change that includes the communities most affected by adult prosecutions of children. Through partnerships with community organizations and advocacy groups, Frankie has helped lead the effort to reduce the number of youth prosecuted as adults and serving time in adult prison. Recent successes include SB 260 (2013), SB 261 (2015), and SB 382 (2015). Even more recently, Frankie played a significant role in developing the youth justice portion of the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016 to end direct file in California.