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New Series Explores How California Handles Juvenile Justice

| March 23, 2011
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The California Report’s Governing California, which explores how to repair what many consider to be a broken government, has produced a new series that focuses on juvenile justice.

Governor Jerry Brown has talked a lot about “moving government closer to the people.” In government-speak, that’s called realignment, or pushing services from the state to the local level. In the area of juvenile justice, this has already been happening.

Governing California editor Tyche Hendricks introduces the series here:


From her Governing California blog post:

Gov. Jerry Brown suggested earlier this year that California become the first state in the nation to shut its youth correctional system completely and turn over the remaining inmates, known as wards in the juvenile justice system, to the custody of counties. Just 1,200 wards remain in state detention – down from 10,000 fifteen years ago.

The state’s five juvenile lock-ups now provide a full range of rehabilitative services – including mental health and substance abuse counseling, education and vocational training. But those wrap-around services come at a price, roughly $225,000 per inmate each year.

Brown wanted to slash that cost – a couple of hundred million dollars – out of the state’s general fund obligations by turning over full responsibility for juvenile justice to California’s 58 counties.

As Louis Freedberg reports in our first story, county governments have pushed back, saying they can’t cope with the most violent offenders, the ones the state now handles. Brown responded with a compromise: allow counties to take the money the state now spends and handle their toughest offenders locally – or pay the state to do it for them. Last week the legislature approved that plan.

Listen to the first part of the series at The California Report.

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Category: Criminal Justice, Government, News, State Budget

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