Home News Center CA Governor Brown Backs Off Plan to Shut Down State Prisons for Youth

CA Governor Brown Backs Off Plan to Shut Down State Prisons for Youth

June 12, 2012
Benjamin Chambers

California governor Jerry Brown has dropped his plan to gradually close all state youth prisons run by the California Department of Juvenile Justice (formerly the California Youth Authority) and transfer responsibility for the youth to local jurisdictions. 

Instead, he now proposes to keep the facilities open for youth who have committed violent offenses, though the maximum age at which youth could be held would drop from age 25 to age 23. The state would charge counties $24,000 a year per youth, a significant increase from a current average of $2,500 per youth per year.

Youth advocates are split on the proposal. Some reformers in California believe that the existing state system is so broken that it needs to be completely eliminated in phases, to be replaced by a realigned system where local jurisdictions are responsible for their own youth. Such a phase-out plan would likely include:

  • disincentives for prosecutors to avoid juvenile court by trying youth as adults;
  • a state oversight function to monitor county practices and county-based facilities; and
  • the realignment of sustainable funding to the counties to help them implement best practices and increase local capacity for housing and rehabilitating youth who commit the most serious offenses.

Other advocates believe that some state capacity for youth who have committed serious and violent offenses must remain—because, they suggest, shutting down the entire system is likely to lead to more direct files to adult court, and because many counties don't currently have the facilities and capacity to handle these kids.

» Bringing Youth Home 

» Download a Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice report arguing that youth corrections funding in California is being protected at the expense of social services and prevention programming.


Photo: Juli Shannon, under Creative Commons License

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