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Revolutionizing the Juvenile Justice System in California

This is an excellent opinion article by Corey Jackson printed in Sunday, April 23, 2023 edition of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

The Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) allocates funding to restore the lives of our youth, however, these funds have been disproportionately used to pay probation salaries and benefits as opposed to being used to implement rehabilitative programs for our youth.

In 2022, 63% of JJCPA funds were spent on probation salaries and benefits, with half of all California counties spending more than 70% of their JJCPA funds on probation salaries and benefits. Riverside County alone spent 15% more this past year on probation salaries and benefits than in 2021. The record low numbers of youth being referred to probation does not match the JJCPA allocation. We need reform in juvenile justice so that our youth do not fall into recidivism. According to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 2017 report, “Juvenile Recidivism in California: An Analysis of Five Years of Rearrests,” 60% of California youth released from juvenile justice camps were rearrested within two years of their release. This same study found that the average length of time for these rearrests to occur was just six months. Funds currently spent on probation salaries and benefits should instead follow youth back to their communities and fund the programs and services that address developing youth into thriving members of healthy and safe communities.

The California Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) of 2018 was a much-needed step forward in the state’s efforts to protect and restore juvenile lives. The JJCPA seeks to provide collaborative, restorative, and community-based services to young people, while also ensuring equal representation and decision-making within county-level oversight bodies. While the JJCPA is a step in the right direction, California must do more to fully realize its vision. This is why I am introducing Assembly Bill 702, the Promoting Youth Success and Empowerment Act (PROMYSE Act) to prioritize funding to support Community Based Organizations (CBO) that provide programming and support for juveniles and increase community representation within the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC). A study conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in 2016 found that juvenile offenders who had participated in a CBO program were significantly less likely to be rearrested or be convicted of a new crime. The study showed that participating in a CBO program increased the chances of avoiding a re-offense by 40%.


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Co-sponsored and supported by a broad coalition of community groups, Assembly Bill 702 will require programs and strategies funded under these provisions to be modeled on healing-centered, restorative, trauma-informed, and positive youth development approaches in collaboration with community-based organizations. This bill recognizes the critical support and skills that community groups bring, and the added value that in-community programming provides to not only prevent recidivism but can address the needs and challenges that youth face in their neighborhoods. To increase the success of this supportive arm, this bill also requires no less than 95% of JJCPA funds to be allocated to community-based organizations and public agencies or departments that are not law enforcement entities. Furthermore, AB 702 requires the JJCC of each county to provide annual, data-driven reports to the Counties Board of Supervisors and the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) relating to their programs. I am certain this is an opportunity to begin to right grievous wrongs by no longer re-traumatizing our youth through incarceration and surveillance, but to open a path for healing, community health, and equity that has eluded our great state for some time.

Corey Jackson represents the Inland Empire’s 60th Assembly District.

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