Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Closing Juvenile Prisons in California

SACRAMENTO—A state watchdog commission recommended Monday that California phase out its antiquated juvenile prisons by 2011, replacing them with regional lockups run by counties.

The regional centers would hold only the most dangerous offenders under the proposal by the Little Hoover Commission. Less serious offenders would be housed at local juvenile halls.

Commissioners said the state also should end its three-year experiment with combining youth and adult prisons under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Authority over youth prisons would be placed under an Office of Juvenile Justice reporting to the governor until the state ends its involvement.

It will cost taxpayers $378 million next year to care for the state's 1,500 juvenile inmates, the panel said in a report to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders. The report also suggests that the youth prisons do little in the way of rehabilitation, saying three of four freed young offenders commit new crimes within three years.

"Californians may fairly ask what they are getting for this outlay and whether other strategies can better deliver public safety and youth rehabilitation," commission chairman Daniel Hancock wrote.

A law that took effect in September already requires the state to transfer all but the most serious offenders to counties' jurisdiction.

From the report:
....The Commission recommends that the state begin planning now to ultimately eliminate its juvenile justice operations and create regional rehabilitative facilities for high-risk, high-need offenders to be leased to and run by the counties.

Juvenile justice operations and policy should be moved from the Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation and placed in a separate Office of Juvenile Justice that reports to the governor’s office.

This office should combine and consolidate the juvenile justice divisions currently under the chief
deputy secretary of juvenile justice as well as the juvenile offender grant administration and
oversight currently under the Corrections Standards Authority. Consolidating these activities into one office will fill gaps that exist despite the multiple agencies and committees charged with pieces of juvenile justice policy and oversight.

Establishing an Office of Juvenile Justice does more than streamline and consolidate overlapping
functions; it establishes an office to lead statewide juvenile justice efforts, to ensure that a
continuum of proven responses to juvenile crime are available throughout California. The state has long lacked a strong leadership structure for juvenile justice, and the realignment legislation failed to assign a single entity to be accountable for state operations and for how counties use state funds.

The realignment legislation did temporarily reconstitute the State Commission on Juvenile Justice, though the jury is still out on what role it can play in providing leadership or oversight. The Legislature should extend the commission’s life another year.

Through the new office, the state can provide real value through consistent leadership, technical
advice and guidance to help counties implement and expand evidence-based programs for juvenile offenders. This office should conduct research and analysis on best practices and share them with counties. It should coordinate with other state agencies that provide youth services and provide counties with guidance on how to best leverage funding sources.


Anonymous said...

75% recid rate sounds like Colorado DOC. 1500 inmates at a cost of $378M, which is half of CO DOC budget and DOC houses 22,700 prisoners. The less or more you spend on prisons does not make a difference. It is how you treat each case. DOC regards prisoners as leaches on society and has no problem in keeping each one of them for the rest of their lives.
Management that just counts beds needs to be replaced. We need "offenders" that WANT to reform. We need programs that will ease them back into society, not throw them out the door with no skills. Yes, DOC does offer a few new programs, but they need more support from the legislature and society. mpc

Anonymous said...