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California Moves to Phase Out Its State-Run Youth Prisons – NBC Bay Area

California is phasing out state-owned youth prisons and shifting responsibility to the county. This was 162 years after legislators created the first alternative to accommodate a 12-year-old child with an adult in San Quentin State Prison and Folsom State Prison.

Advocates said the move reflected their belief that criminal children could be reformed and better serviced when they were near their homes.

However, supporters and skeptics said there was a lot of uncertainty ahead as the remaining three state-owned lockups stopped enrolling on Thursday and closed in 2023. Juvenile delinquency surveillance moves from the State Corrections Bureau to the California Health and Welfare Agency.

Jessica Heldman, a juvenile justice expert at the University of San Diego’s Faculty of Law, said this change in thinking was “very likely to be much more effective” and “of course, to make the community safer.” I am. Youthful criminals have been identified and met so that they can be reformed.

The state system has a problematic history characterized by prisoner suicides and brawls. The transition to local control is the final step in a long reform effort, partially driven by class action proceedings and incentives to counties to keep young people away from the state system.

The San Francisco Technical School, the first facility for troubled youth, was founded by the state legislature in 1859. Two years later, Mary’s Building State Reform School opened for boys aged 8-18. 10,000 young people.

The youth criminal population has dropped to about 750. About 16% are murderers, 37% are assaulted, one-third are robbers, and 9% are engaged in rape and other sex crimes. Disproportionate 59% are Hispanic and 29% are black.

So far, 12-year-olds have been sent to institutions and in some cases could stay until 25, but many are transferred to adult prisons at the age of 18. New admissions will be overseen by 58 county probation departments.

Teens over the age of 14 who may have once been to a state facility can instead be admitted to the county’s “safe youth care facility” at the direction of a juvenile court judge.

Meredith Desautels, a staff lawyer at the San Francisco Youth Law Center, said this was a nasty replica of the state’s lockup at the local level.

“My main concern is that we actually see young people who would never spend more time (to state facilities) in safer captivity than they did before the closure. There is, “she said.

Larry Morse, head of legislation at the California District Attorneys Association, said the county was determined to make the law work, but “frankly, the details are still a bit unclear, which one. It was not possible to accurately classify how to deploy. “

The prosecution wants to know where the young people who have committed “the most horrific crimes” are committed and how they can be helped, he said.

County officials fear that in small counties, for example, it can be difficult to commit sex crimes or provide professional programs to young people with serious mental health needs.

The state will send $ 212 million annually to the county to help pay new responsibilities. That’s about $ 225,000 per young person.

However, the California County Association said funding formulas punish counties that rely most on the state-owned system and require maximum support to develop local alternatives.

Meanwhile, county probation officers can send 16 and 17 years old to adult prisons for the most serious crimes, at the request of prosecutors, as reform advocates focus on rehabilitation. I’m trying to find a balance with a juvenile judge.

The California county already handles about 35,000 juvenile offenders, of whom more than 3,600 are housed in juvenile training schools, camps and ranches. However, when juvenile court judges faced the most resistant or troubled youth in the past, they had the option of sending them to the state juvenile judiciary department.

“And that one young man will have access to a large $ 200 million system to create the case plan he needs, so it’s a court that they don’t have to go to the adult system. Confidence, “said the Supreme Prosecutor of California Secretary-General Karen Punk.

With that option gone, officials and supporters are also looking for guidance from early state youth and community recovery offices.

A consortium of 40 youth advocacy groups recently budgeted $ 30 million in parliamentarians to better monitor not only the youth who previously had state custody, but the entire youth judicial system. I requested. ..

Frankie Guzman, a lawyer who is the director of the California Youth Judiciary Initiative at the National Youth Law Center, said:

While law enforcement was suspicious of many supporters, it often led the probation department by default, said Guzman, who spent six years in California’s youth prison for armed robbery.

Heldman warned that the state could not simply exempt liability for the youth currently pushing back into the county.

“That’s what I call Pontius Pilate. The states wash their hands in these wards,” Republican senator Jim Nielsen, former state parole chief, said during a legislative debate on the shift this spring. I did.

However, Democratic Senator Maria Elena Durazo has promised that the Budget Subcommittee will oversee the appropriate transition. Of their lives “

“This was a moment of hope,” Durazo said of a legislator’s vote on the shift. “It was also the recognition that we had to get it right, and that wouldn’t be easy.”

California Moves to Phase Out Its State-Run Youth Prisons – NBC Bay Area Source link California Moves to Phase Out Its State-Run Youth Prisons – NBC Bay Area

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