Why California is Proposing Changes to Improve the Juvenile Justice System
The youth of today are our future and giving them resources to become a better generation is critical. In California, the new Governor, Gavin Newsom, disclosed his plans to improve the future of the youth in our juvenile justice system. His proposal is to move the Division of Juvenile Justice from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the Human Services Agency. This change would enable the state to concentrate on supporting youths with overcoming their trauma, acquiring life skills and pursuing education rather than penalizing them. In an announcement released by his office, Gavin struck a chord with a powerful statement that the justice system should be focused on helping kids pursue new and better lives, not jumpstarting the revolving door of crime.
California has repeatedly attempted to revamp its juvenile detention facilities without any great success, according to Daniel Macallair, Center Executive Director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. He believes that all the juvenile offenders should be put under county supervision and receive rehabilitative services within their own communities, allowing them to remain close to their relatives and receive more preparation to reenter society. The perception of punitive practices over rehabilitation is prevalent in our justice system, and it has been proven that this does not lead to real change. Marlene Sanchez, Associate Director of the Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice advocacy group, stated that she has hopes for the state’s juvenile detention centers to be closed then open again as rehabilitation centers where young people can seek education and receive mental health and substance abuse treatment. Programs providing rehabilitation and support is imperative to making a real change in those in our justice system, especially our youth.