November 17, 2020

YLC and PJDC Call for Rethinking Juvenile Hall Commitments

As California prepares to shutter its state juvenile facility system, it is critically important for counties to carefully consider how they will serve youth who previously would have been committed to the Division of Juvenile Justice. On November 12, 2020, the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center (PJDC) and Youth Law Center (YLC) released California’s County Juvenile Lockups: Expensive, Overutilized, and Unaccountable, urging counties not to simply move these youth into juvenile halls, which are often jail-like facilities that severely restrict movement, lack adequate programming and educational space, are operated by staff who lack the training to work with the complex behavioral needs of incarcerated youth. The report presents findings from a statewide Public Records Act request and research showing that juvenile hall type incarceration programs are the most expensive and least effective way to address the needs of young people. It also points to the almost complete lack of transparency, oversight and standards for what occurs in California’s commitment programs.

The report calls on counties to reconsider their use of these facilities and to transform their approach to youth justice, warning that the benefits of “realigning” youth from state facilities to their home communities will be lost if counties simply recreate local versions of the problematic state system.

The report can be accessed here.

The November 12 press release can be accessed here.

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