The New York Times provides a well-written story from the Bay Citizen on the sides to the debate over Brown’s initiative to close all CA youth correctional facilities. The initiative’s roots are traced to an informal policy that
has been centered in the Bay Area after accusations of abuse and neglect at the institutions surfaced in a 2003 Alameda County lawsuit. In recent years, some local judges often refused to send young offenders to state institutions, preferring to confine them in county facilities regarded as safer and more effective.
Mr. Brown’s initiative would take that unofficial policy further. It would scrap the state juvenile justice system and shift responsibility for confining the most violent young offenders to the local level, where they are nearer to family and have more community treatment options. The move would affect the 1,300 youths in state care, down from 10,000 in 1996.
The main concerns offered by the experts featured in the story concern the lack of funding for improving local facilities and equipping them to handle severely troubled young people, as well as the concern that the intentions behind the initiative will be circumvented by opting to try more juveniles as adults. There is an additional concern over the new responsibilities shouldered by local probation officers.