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News items related to Emily Luhrs

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Conservative states leading the way in prison reform
The Supreme Court decision that California needs to shrink (not release) its prison population has made national headlines, but as I mentioned in my last blog , over the past few years many states have already begun reducing their reliance on incarceration.   What is particularly interesting, as the ACLU   points out in their most recent report, is the overwhelming bi-partisan support for prison reform efforts.  Texas, Kansas, Kentucky, Arkansas, and a handful of other states have successfully…
Privatization of prisons hinders criminal justice reform
Despite declining crime rates, incarceration rates are at an all time high in the United States with 2 million adults in prison, including 150,000 in California institutions.  The number of people in private prisons has increased more rapidly than the rate of people sentenced to state and federal facilities.  The reason behind this growth is due to the direct link between the private prison industry, monopolized by the GEO group and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and The American…
Farrell Update: Motion Granted
Last week, in response to the July 7th Farrell hearing , Judge Tigar enforced the Prison Law Office's (representing Farrell )  motion to hold California's state-run juvenile correctional facilities (DJF) accountable, specifically for unmet educational and programmatic requirements. DJF remains in violation of a 2005 court order to meet the 4-hour minimum requirement per youth per day for educational programming.  In July 2011, DJF said they needed at least 90 days to hire adequate staff to…
Myths vs. Facts -- Clearing up the realignment debate
As counties start preparing for the impact of criminal justice realignment (AB 109), it is important to clarify some common misconceptions about what will actually happen on October 1, 2011.  Governor Brown's realignment plan is directly tied to the May 23, 2011 Supreme Court decision to reduce prison-overcrowding, as it focuses on the same population of non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual offenders.  Initial reactions to the decision were based in fear and uncertainty.  For example, Justice…
CJCJ supports The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2011
The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1231) was introduced in June by Senator Patrick Leahy (D- VT), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Robert Portman (R-OH), and is now on its way to the U.S. Senate for a vote.   The Second Chance Act originally passed unanimously in 2008 and funded re-entry programs nation-wide in the areas of substance abuse treatment, employment and mentoring services, and family reunification programs.  It has since improved ex-offender…
San Francisco leading the way in Criminal Justice Realignment
San Francisco's Executive Committee of the Community Corrections Partnership has been devising a plan for realignment and presented their model for implementation to the Board of Supervisors' Public Safety Committee at a public hearing yesterday at City Hall.  California's Criminal Justice Realignment Bill (A.B. 109) was approved on April 4, 2011 and is set to take effect October 1, 2011. Their plan focuses on collaboration between agencies in order to best serve the new population of inmates…
Delancey Street Foundation celebrates its 40th Anniversary
I recently read an article in Yes Magazine's "Beyond Prisons " issue entitled, "Recipes for Recovery," highlighting San Francisco's own Delancey Street Foundation .  Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Delancey Street is a program unlike any other-- a reentry center for ex-prisoners and addicts, where the residents run the day-to-day, from housing, therapy sessions, businesses, such as their moving company and restaurant. I first learned about Delancey Street four years ago, when I…
New report, same problems: DJF's prolonged progress
Last week, just prior to the Farrell hearing, the Office of the Special Master released the 18th report documenting DJF's efforts to comply with the remedial plans' minimum standards of care.  It covers the following: "¢ Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF) audit "¢ Sexual Behavior Treatment Program (SBTP ) update "¢ Integrated Behavioral Treatment Model (IBTM) "¢ 'Use-of-force' report "¢ Closure of Preston Youth Correctional Facility In her report, Special Master Campbell…
Unmet promises subject DJF wards to unconstitutional conditions
Thursday morning's Farrell hearing did not reach a decision.   The purpose of the hearing was to consider the Prison Law Office's (plaintiff) motion to hold DJF (defendant) in contempt of court for the unconstitutional levels of care provided to youth at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF).  The allegations against DJF are strong, as cited in previous CJCJ blogs , and after continued failure to comply with the court orders, the Prison Law Office decided to pursue a more forceful…
Exposing the Truth about Ventura's treatment of youth
The Department of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) has responded to the Prison Law Office's allegations stating that Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF) is in fact providing adequate educational and therapeutic services and proper out-of-cell time to the youth detained in their facilities.  The state agency's explanation of remedies appears to be insufficient in order to create a therapeutic and rehabilitative environment for youth in their care and custody.  This is the latest action from the…
Life Without Parole: costly for juveniles and taxpayers
It is the responsibility of the state to "provide juveniles sentenced to life a 'meaningful opportunity for release,'" according to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Graham v. Florida .  In California, there is no such "meaningful opportunity" as of yet.  Youth, under the age of 18, committed for 1st degree murder in California can be sentenced to Life Without Parole (LWOP), without ever having the possibility to petition for their parole.   Recognizing the fact that these can minors spend…
Flawed programming for DJF youth needing sexual behavior treatment
The most recent evidence of California's Division of Juvenile Facilities' (DJF) continued failure is documented in a report highlighting the State's inability to provide sufficient programming to youth in need of sexual behavior treatment (SBTP).  Audits of the three facilities with SBTP programs occurred September 2010 through February 2011.  As a result, SBTP expert, Barbara Schwartz, found serious deficiencies in core aspects of the program, despite improvement in many compliance items…
Court, Probation, and Community Leaders Meet at Same Table to Discuss Plan for Juveniles Without DJF
Members from CJCJ's Sentencing Service Program recently had the opportunity to attend San Francisco and Alameda counties' discussions on realignment.   Key players in juvenile justice, from the courts, probation and the community sat down together to discuss how the realignment will affect their counties' youth at the May 17th  San Francisco Reentry Council meeting and the June 9th  panel sponsored by the National Council on Crime and Deliquency on, "Keeping our Children Home: How Realigning…
"Dehumanizing" treatment of wards at DJF facilities continues
After eight years of ongoing attempts to bring California's Department of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) up to constitutional requirements, the "DJJ continues to deprive youth of fundamental rights guaranteed them by State law and this Court's orders."  The most recent document from the Farrell Litigation emphasizes that there are no longer viable excuses as to why these reforms have still not occurred.   The Prison Law Office is set to hold the defendant [Matthew Cate, CDCR Secretary] in contempt…

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