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Published: 2021-06-22 00:29:05
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Category: Supreme Court, Law, Crime

Type of paper: Essay

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In California, Justice for Juveniles
The California Youth Authority (CYA) was a state prison system for youth offenders; it was founded in 1941 to keep juvenile delinquents out of adult prison and provide them with a support system for rehabilitation. It was the belief of lawmakers and social workers at thetime that a better-educated and trained youth would have a greater chance of becoming integrated back into society.
Unfortunately, 50 years later, the system appeared to have broken down, and so damaging to the youth it was supposed to be rehabilitating that the California Youth Authority was eliminated and many of its facilities were forced to shut down. The CYA was replaced by the Division of Juvenile Justice. The responsibility of handling juvenile delinquents was handed down to county probation departments, and only 10% of the offenders were kept by the state prison system.
However, the system costs the state millions of dollars to run; and recently, Gov. Jerry Brown has been considering doing away with the system altogether. Lawmakers and social workers are divided on the issue. The system is clearly not working but any other options appear to be even worse. California simply does not have a fallback system for the handling of juvenile delinquents.
We cannot go back to imprisoning youth with the adult jail population; any hopes of rehabilitation would be lost forever. The best approach at the moment would be to keep the Division of Juvenile Justice but to downsize it to more manageable levels. True, the system is not running smoothly but it is doing its job by keeping juvenile crime down. What California should do is to expand its probation system and get communities more involved in the monitoring and rehabilitation of youth offenders. This approach not only has been shown to work, but to be more cost effective.
Another problem is that there is no room in the existing juvenile halls for any more youth offenders, so were the three remaining facilities to shut down there would be no place to send them other than to adult prisons. The effect of taking this step would be to reverse all of the progress that has been made in the controlling of juvenile crime. There is no system set up that is prepared to take over the Division of Juvenile Justice’s education, rehabilitation, and mental-health and drug treatment programs.
We do not need or want to resurrect the days of the CYA, but we might end up being forced to if we close down the Division of Juvenile Justice, and resume trying juvenile delinquents as adults, punishing them as adults, and sending them to adult prisons.
And what good would that do? We would still have to house the youth offenders somewhere, it is difficult to understand how housing them with adults would save the state money—it is more likely to end up causing the state and the counties a great deal more money; we cannot underestimate the negative impact this would have on youth offenders, and the rate of recidivism would rise.
Gov. Jerry Brown has to stop seeking the easy way out and instead show his leadership and focus on expanding juvenile justice programs that have been shown to work, while re-evaluating others that don’t. At the very least, the governor has to ensure that each county has the proper facilities, trained staff, and rehabilitation programs needed to meet this problem.
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/mar/27/opinion/la-ed-juvenile-justice-california-20120327

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