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January Newsletter: Proposed Ballot Initiative to Repeal Direct File

In this issue:

  • CJCJ is offering a new free resource for youth! 
  • Executive Director Daniel Macallair interviewed on KQED's Forum
  • Governor Brown announces new ballot initiative to repeal direct file

CJCJ is offering a new free resource for youth!

CJCJ teamed up with Strategies for Youth to provide a new resource for young people with juvenile records 

Think About It First card

CJCJ is contacting advocates and youth service providers across the state to distribute Think About It First cards at no cost. Think About It First cards are wallet-sized booklets that explain in straight-forward terms the collateral consequences of arrest, court records, criminal convictions, and California's 3 Strikes law.

To request a set of Think About It First cards to increase youth awareness about the consequences of justice system involvement and juvenile record sealing, please contact CJCJ at cjcjmedia@cjcj.org or (415) 621-5661 ext. 121.Printable versions are also available online. 

The cards also inform young people about juvenile record sealing, and encourage them to visit CJCJ's Seal It website for more information about eligibility and specific county processes. For each of California's 58 counties, the Seal It site includes: 

  • Downloadable applications, petition forms, and sample request letters. 
  • Contact information for the necessary departments. 
  • Step-by-step descriptions of each county's sealing process.
  • Fee and waiver information.
  • Estimated time frames.
  • Additional steps to take after the court grants or denies your petition. 

The recent passage of legislation authorizing automatic record sealing only applies to youth adjudicated on or after January 1, 2016. There are still many young people who could benefit from the resources Seal It provides. More information about these new laws is included on the website

To request a set of Think About It First cards, please contact CJCJ at cjcjmedia@cjcj.org or (415) 621-5661 ext. 121. 


Executive Director Daniel Macallair interviewed on KQED's Forum 

Forum spoke with Daniel Macallair about his new book, the history of California's juvenile justice system, and how to improve youth corrections

Listen to Dan Macallair on KQED's Forum

In lieu of the release of his new book, After the Doors Were Locked: A History of Youth Corrections in California and the Origins of 21st Century Reform, CJCJ's Executive Director Daniel Macallair was interviewed by KQED Forum's Michael Montgomery to discuss the dark history of California's juvenile justice system and what the state can learn from the past.  

The interview covers the evolution of California's youth corrections system, beginning in the 19th century. "The institutional model that is widely practiced within our youth correction system here in California, and frankly around most of the country, is rooted in the 19th century," says Daniel Macallair. "When we think about the current problems that exist and are manifested within the current institutions, we think it's a modern problem. It's not. It has origins from over a hundred years ago."

The interview delves into the abuses seen in California's state-operated facilities, such as coerced sterilization operations. The events discussed in this interview show that the state's historical narrative often described effective treatment for youth in California's juvenile justice system, while violence and abuse occurred within its facilities. "We have to separate the rhetoric from the reality," says Macallair. 

"The state has had over 100 years to try, and it has shown that it does not have the capacity to provide the kinds of services that kids actually need," says Macallair. "And inevitably–inevitably– [facilities] descend into these corrupt, brutal, and abusive institutions. We've got to stop that cycle." 

Listen to Daniel Macallair's full interview on KQED's Forum >>
Find out more about After the Doors Were Locked by Daniel Macallair >>

Governor Brown announces new ballot initiative to repeal direct file

Since 2000, justice-involved youth as young as 14 years old can be automatically transferred to adult court through a process called direct file

Racial disparity direct file

On January 27th, Governor Jerry Brown introduced a new ballot initiative, titled The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, that would no longer allow prosecutors to directly file youth in adult court. Instead, that decision would be left to the juvenile judge, who would have discretion to either transfer youth in adult court, or keep them in the juvenile system. 

CJCJ has participated in the discussion of repealing direct file through its Sentencing Services Program (SSP), its work with the California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice (CAYCJ), and continuously conducting data analyses on the effects of direct file since 2000. Data from the recent decade show that youth of color have been disproportionately affected by direct file, and that counties disparately apply the policy creating a system of justice by geography. Studies have also found that youth transferred to the adult system recidivate at higher rates than similar youth who remain in the juvenile system. 

"The Act restores the right of judges to decide when a youth is to be transferred to adult court," says CJCJ Executive Director, Daniel Macallair. "The current misguided policy gives prosecutors sole discretion and promotes politically driven decision making and creates unconscionable disparities. Congratulations to Governor Brown for his leadership." 

The proposed ballot initiative would also increase parole eligibility for those in the adult system, and further incentivizes participation in rehabilitative programming through good-time credits. "It represents a new direction for California's long broken sentencing system," says Daniel Macallair. "For nearly 40 years, people were routinely sentenced to long fixed prison terms with little consideration for their individual circumstances and with few incentives to turn their lives around. This initiative reverses our past failures and restores a degree of reason and common sense to our justice system." 

Learn more about CJCJ's Sentencing Service Program here >>
Read about CJCJ's other technical assistance programs here>>

 

Keywords: After the Doors Were Locked, Daniel Macallair, direct file, facilities, Juvenile justice, juvenile records, KQED, Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act, Seal It, SSP

Posted in Juvenile Justice, Political Landscape, Sentencing

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