Investigation into California’s juvenile justice system airing this week

KQED News, California Watch partner for in-depth series

SAN FRANCISCO, March 18, 2011 – A three-part KQED News and California Watch investigation into California’s juvenile justice system is set to be broadcast this week. The start of the series was delayed by ongoing coverage of the crisis in Japan.

California’s Department of Juvenile Justice – for years plagued by charges of violence, sky-high recidivism and exorbitant costs – was targeted for shutdown in Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial budget proposal earlier this year. Counties have pushed back, saying they can’t absorb the most violent offenders. Next week the KQED Newsproject Governing California, in partnership with the statewide investigative reporting initiative California Watch, will present a series of reports that examines all angles of the issue and takes listeners inside state correctional facilities.

The reports will air Tuesday and Wednesday on The California Report and Friday on The California Report magazine. The California Report and The California Reportmagazine are productions of KQED News and can be heard on more than 35 stations across the state. In San Francisco, the reports can be heard on KQED 88.5FM. In Sacramento, the series will air on KQEI 89.3FM. The California Report airs at 5:50am, 6:50am, and 8:50am Monday through Friday in the Bay Area and Sacramento. The California Report magazine airs at 4:30pm, 6:30pm, and 11pm Friday in the Bay Area and Sacramento. Listeners also can find out more online at

“Juvenile justice is an often invisible part of state government… but how we fund it, who’s in charge and whether we succeed in rehabilitating young offenders makes a big difference in all of our lives,” said Governing California editor Tyche Hendricks. “When kids break the law, who’s best positioned to handle them – the state or the counties where they live? How do we handle the toughest offenders? And for the many young people with mental health problems, how do we ensure they get treatment and get them back on the right path? Our series on juvenile justice examines the debate over shifting the job from the state to the local level.”

On Tuesday, listeners will learn about a state youth correctional facility outside of Stockton where violent young offenders receive intensive vocational training and personalized psychological help as part of a renewed effort at rehabilitation. However, the cost to taxpayers is a whopping $240,000 per offender.

The series delves deeper into rehabilitation efforts on Wednesday, when it looks at challenges and approaches to providing kids with the care they need to get their lives on track. Listeners will follow a young woman who has grown up in juvenile detention and struggles for stability, as well as a young man whose whole family has been involved in the therapy process with him and who is now heading into a more promising adulthood.

On Friday, the series will take listeners to a bright spot for California’s Division of Juvenile Justice: a 65-year-old fire-fighting camp in the mountains of Amador County. The camp takes some of the state’s young offenders and has dramatically turned around the lives of many, giving them unprecedented responsibilities and skills.

The Governing California project includes a blog, several online features exploring state governance, and in-depth radio reports airing through The California Report.Governing California is funded by the James Irvine Foundation.

California Watch is a project of the Center of Investigative Reporting.


Media Contact: Ian Hill