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The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice believes California must reduce its reliance on incarceration as a solution to social problems. However, on Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for FY 2016 – 17 continues California’s dependency on incarceration, which impedes efforts to promote a healthier and safer society.

Governor Brown’s FY 2016 – 17 budget proposal increases spending on California’s state youth corrections , the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), continuing investment in a failed system. As a result of juvenile realignment implemented in 2007, counties have assumed greater responsibility for high-needs, justice-involved youth. Over this period, the state has made available considerable financial resources to support county capacity and California’s juvenile crime rate has dropped to historic lows. Research has repeatedly confirmed that local supervision is better for justice-involved youth and their families. Moreover, DJJ has consistently failed to maintain a safe environment with reliable quality programming for the youth in its care. CJCJ supports Governor Brown’s 2012 proposal to close DJJ and transfer all youth to county and community jurisdiction. 

This budget further demonstrates a lack of commitment to community care in its designation of $250 million in jail construction funding to be distributed by the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC). This funding is prioritized for counties that have not previously received state construction funds during the implementation of Public Safety Realignment. However, these targeted counties have not been awarded funding previously due to their inability to effectively demonstrate need. This $250 million essentially guarantees that counties, which have hitherto been unable to document a need to increase bed space in their facilities, will receive funding .

We are also concerned by the Governor’s estimate of $29.3 million in net state savings derived from the implementation of Proposition 47. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the FY 2015 – 16 Proposition 47 net savings would range between $100 and $200 million, which differs starkly from the Governor’s proposed figure. These state savings will be used to support mental health and substance abuse treatment, programming for at-risk youth, and victim services. However, the Governor’s estimate reflects the state’s low prioritization of community-based services when compared to the $250 million in jail construction funding and a $200 million increase for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.