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People Are Calling out This Educational Academy

ATTN: interviews CJCJ's Brian Goldstein on the merits of the California Leadership Academy, a new prison project included in Governor Jerry Brown's budget proposal, that CJCJ has long opposed.  

People Are Calling out This Educational Academy

By Charles Davis, ATTN:

Excerpt: 

The California Leadership Academy is for men between the ages of 18 and 25, which of California’s roughly 125,000 prisoners is the group most likely to be a repeat offender, with 61 percent ending up in prison, again. The academy offers group classes and therapy in addition to one-on-one time with mentors to help those enrolled find success in their studies as well as their effort to find a job. Those serious about their work could even graduate in three years or less.

“A prison is a prison. And trying to talk about it as though it could somehow resemble a university campus I think feels like an impossible goal to meet when you’re talking about a punitive system,” said Jennifer Kim, director of programs at the Ella Baker Center, a nonprofit in Oakland, California, that advocates alternatives to incarceration.

The academy’s official proposal to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation states: “Representatives from community-based providers and support organizations almost uniformly objected to the proposed concept and approach as well as the process for developing it.” The academy's proposal was drafted by a consulting group paid $865,000 by the state to come up with a plan for reducing youth recidivism. 

“It looks really cool,” Brian Goldstein, director of policy and development at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, told ATTN:. “It’s designed in a very high-end way: there are lots of pictures, and there’s language about trauma," Goldstein said. "The words at times mirror what a lot of other groups have been saying. The problem is it’s using that new language around a failed, recycled concept, that has been proven not to work time, and time, and time, again. And it comes at significant expense.”

Goldstein argues the state has already tried building rehabilitative facilities under a model of incarceration — the proposed campus for the California Leadership Academy looks remarkably similar to early designs for detention facilities now run by the Division of Juvenile Justice where young people have been subjected to emotional and physical abuse that's been the subject of numerous lawsuits. “They’re violent. They’re not rehabilitative. And they’re very expensive,” Goldstein added. 

Posted in CJCJ in the News, Correctional Institutions, Political Landscape

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