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California Must Move Beyond Youth Incarceration

Earlier this month, California failed to adopt Senate Bill (SB) 284, the Keep Youth Closer to Home Act. This bill would have incentivized counties to develop alternatives to California’s state youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). We are disappointed that SB 284 was returned without a signature despite the state’s urgent need to move beyond DJJ’s costly, dangerous, and inherently non-rehabilitative conditions.

Some counties rely heavily on the state system given its low cost, while others opt for local treatment and services. Since the 1960s, our state has used financial disincentives to manage our state-level population. SB 284 aligns with this precedent by supporting innovations that keep young people closer to their families and communities.

SB 284 co-sponsors and supporters following a legislative hearing

California’s local facilities operate at less than one-third capacity, nearly 9,000 vacant beds, and many have abundant treatment space for youth with complex needs. Counties also receive hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the state to serve young people locally. Ultimately, counties can provide what DJJ cannot: close, regular contact with loved ones and support systems. 

CJCJ thanks the dozens of organizations and individuals who supported SB 284 and our shared vision for transforming the juvenile justice system. In particular, we honor the leadership and collaboration of the bill’s author, co-authors, and co-sponsors in this critical effort:

Author: Senator Jim Beall

Co-authors:

Co-sponsors:

We look forward to continuing our work together with the governor’s office and state leaders to support local alternatives to youth incarceration.

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