As Jesse pointed out in a recent blog post, our general concerns about the California correctional crisis are warranted especially with regard to our treatment of minors. Much of the recent attention to the crisis concerned adult institutions exclusively; however, given the connection between age and crime, and the difficulties in rehabilitating adults, juvenile institutions have an enormous potential as centers of rehabilitation, and could provide a turning point away from criminal career.
What are our juvenile institutions like? A recent report by Books Not Bars paints a rather grim picture. The organization examined six California juvenile institutions to the Missouri Model and issued report cards for them. Sadly, all institutions miserably failed to prove adequate; the report finds conditions to be abysmal, and not conducive in the least to rehabilitation. Dated building standards, remoteness from family, chaotic and violent environments, and a paucity of rehabilitative programs, do not bode well for the future of juvenile corrections, or for a decline in adult criminal careers. Books Not Bars should be commended for bringing these invisible problems to light and raising awareness to this sad state of affairs.