On Sept. 30, when Governor Jerry Brown put the ink to the paper and signed Senate Bill 9 (Fair Sentencing for Youth Act), something cosmic happened in the universe. Maybe it is like when an earthquake shakes a piece of earth. In the same area, some wake up because they feel the power of the earth moving under them, while others remain asleep, lost in dreams that very little can shake them from their stupor.When the governor put his pen to the paper, something new was blown across our state. For many still sleeping, immersed in their small world of reality, nothing new took place. But for those who know the secret of this state and how we have thrown away the key to kids of color for the last 25 years, something strong, something electric, something of a magnitude 8 earthquake could be felt with the signing of the bill. At first, those who have worked for so long on legislation for those kids who have received juvenile life without parole (LWOP), a very specific sound could be heard. At first it was not recognizable, but with time a few could make up the sound. One word. When the governor took out his pen and signed SB9, what vibrated across our state was we as a people believe in forgiveness. Second chances for kids can only happen when our society truly is involved in a restorative process of healing. Forgiveness is the heart of this process. When the governor took out his pen and signed SB9, what vibrated across our state was we as a people believe in forgiveness.Many people who worked hard to pass this bill have also been witnesses to incredible encounters where the victim of someone who has lost a loved one to violence enters into a conversation with a perpetrator of violence. The depth of this exchange has profound effects on both persons. Some kind of deep healing occurs.When the governor took his pen and signed the bill, hope began. It is possible for legislators to vote for a bill despite running the risk of being labeled as “soft on crime,” but it is possible to do the right thing and still win. For other legislators, when the governor signed this bill, I wonder if they asked themselves why they had been afraid to vote for the bill. Their fear of losing an election? How their opponents could use their “yes” against them? How that fear paralyzed them and they took the fate out by voting no? For those legislators who were courageous enough to vote yes, they should be at peace with themselves and realize they brought joy to Jose in Corcoran State Prison, to Javier in Chino State Prison and to many more.When I received the news at midday Sunday that the governor had signed SB9, I was with Jose, a young kid in juvenile hall who literally had just signed his name to The Book of Life, next to the more than 500 signatures of kids who have changed their lives. When we told the kids at a unit in Sylmar’s Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall about SB9, there was a palpable feeling of hope. If we give up on these kids, they will give up on themselves. Thank you, Governor Brown, for trusting in the power of forgiveness and healing. And as we did today and every Sunday, we pray for all victims of violence and their families. Father Mike Kennedy is co-chaplain at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar and founder and executive director of Culver City-based Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative (www.jrji.org).{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1005/kennedy/{/gallery}