By Emile DeWeaver
This year juvenile and criminal justice advocates renewed their focus on California legislation that will introduce more evidenced-based policies into criminal justice. According to the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), these evidence-based policies are designed to decrease incarceration and increase rehabilitation.
This month Kid CAT Speaks highlights two senate bills: (SB) 1157 and (SB) 1031. These bills not only aim to decrease incarceration, they better equip our youth to resist the pressures of intergenerational incarceration.
Senator Holly Mitchell introduced SB 1157, which would reverse the trend of substituting video visitation for in-person visits at county jails.
In a report by the CJCJ Deputy Director Dinky Manek Enty explained the importance of in-person visits to America’s youth. “[F]or the more than 2.7 million children in the U.S. with an incarcerated parent, the value of hugging and kissing their parent is immeasurable. The impact of a positive family relationship on a child’s healthy development can’t be quantified. We have a great responsibility to ensure children have the opportunity to feel their parent, to support a child’s rapidly developing sense of self.”
Research supports Enty’s claim as well as the role in-person visits can play in strengthening family connections, which in turn can help incarcerated people reintegrate back in society more smoothly and recidivate less. (According to a report by the Criminal Justice Policy Review, visitation significantly decreases the risk of recidivism.) Findings suggest that “revising prison visitation policies to make them more ‘visitor friendly’ could yield public safety benefits by helping offenders establish a continuum of social support from prison to the community.”
Senator Loni Hancock introduced SB 1031. According to CJCJ, SB 1031 would establish the Juvenile Justice Information System, a database for information about processes and outcomes in juvenile justice. This system could facilitate information–sharing between counties (which currently does not happen), clearer research about juvenile justice, and evidenced-based solutions to the problems facing youth.
By Emile DeWeaver