California is gearing up to make dramatic changes in its juvenile incarceration system.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation in 2020 to close the state’s four youth prisons by June of 2023. As a result, counties must design a new system such as camps and minimally restrictive centers, according to Marina E. Franco of Noticias Telemundo for Axios Latino.
In the past few years, many states have debated reshaping their juvenile justice system. That includes Indiana, South Dakota, Maryland and South Carolina, the March 29 story reported.
The system has been accused of excessive punishment with a higher recidivism rate than adult prisons. Newsom’s new approach focuses on therapy and health services, community service and vocational education to ease re-entry into society.
Leading the changeover planning is Katherine Lucero, a former Juvenile Court judge and now a Santa Clara Superior Court judge.
“(The U.S.) has over-relied on incarceration, particularly within our Black and Brown communities, and we will challenge these disparities to disrupt the cycle,” she said.
Detention centers will be managed by the state’s Health Department. Juveniles still incarcerated in a state juvenile prison will be transferred when the new projects are working. The state stopped taking new juveniles last summer.
Lucero said, “In parallel with finding the least-restrictive appropriate environments, (we) will work closely with education partners because connection and a sense of belonging within the education system is critical to an individual’s wellness, a protective factor that decreases involvement in the criminal justice system.”