California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities have been inefficient, but a closure plan proposed by California Governor Jerry Brown, should “not rely solely on fiscal motivations,” says Laura Abrams, author of a newly published policy brief on the governor’s budget realignment plan.
Abrams, director of the UCLA Juvenile Justice Reentry Project (JJRP) and associate professor of social welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, writes that the proposed $70 million cut from the DJJ budget would eliminate the three remaining state juvenile correctional facilities and that management of youth offenders to county facilities by Jan. 2014. This shift in population to county facilities may bring youth closer to their communities and family, however, Abrams and co-author, Viet Nguyen, point out that rehabilitative services addressing education, mental health and substance abuse, which DJJ facilities were meant to provide, are still needed.
“While we support alternatives to costly, ineffective, and harmful incarceration systems for juveniles, we are wary of the assumption that counties are prepared to handle this population more effectively, and also caution against the possibility of transferring more youth to the adult system as a result of these closures,” write the authors in their position statement.
Co-author Viet Nguyen is an undergraduate Political Science major at UCLA and volunteer for the JJRP.
Read the full policy brief