Saturday, March 24, 2012

Juvenile Realignment Delayed

The Senate Budget Sub-Committee has decided to delay their approval for the Governor’s proposal to stop intake of juvenile offenders at the State Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) on January 1, 2013, shift responsibility for the juveniles to local governments, and fund local governments $10 million in 2011-2012 for the planning of the incoming youthful offenders. This is after Budget Sub-Committee staff recommended waiting to move on the Governor’s proposal to realign DJJ to the local governments until the May Revise.

Budget Sub-Committee staff noted "potential hurdles" in implementing the Governor’s proposal including: an increase in direct files; court commitment changes; "sight and sound" barriers for minors housed in adult institutions; and statutory changes, as counties can only house wards until age 21 while DJJ houses wards up to age 25.

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice Executive Director Dan Macallair and Commonweal Juvenile Justice Program Director David Steinhart spoke about these items on a panel at the hearing. Macallair recommended pushing back the deadline for DJJ closure to 2015-2016 to allow more time for planning. He also recommended Ventura Youth Correctional Facility be closed, and encouraged the Legislature to take advantage of private foundation support. Steinhart proposed more housing options for older and more violent juvenile offenders. He also recommended penalties for counties that have high rates of direct files. Sumayyah Waheed of the Ella Baker Center also testified, noting concerns with the current progress on implementing the stipulations from the Farrell v. Cate case regarding unconstitutional conditions at DJJ facilities, including problems such as guard harassment and “room sweeps.”

No comments: