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The Keep Youth Closer to Home Act (Senate Bill 284), a measure co-sponsored by CJCJ, is one step closer to becoming California state law. Last week, the bill was heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee where it passed with broad support. Next, it will move to the Assembly Floor and, if successful, will be sent to the Governor for a signature. Please join our sponsors and supporters in helping to pass SB 284. Below, you can find out how to support youth today!

SB 284 seeks to keep justice-involved youth closer to their families and communities by creating an incentive for counties to place them locally. Currently, counties pay just $24,000 annually for each youth they send to the state youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). This fee is just a fraction of the cost of local juvenile halls, camps, and ranches, creating a problematic incentive for counties to place youth far from home in the dangerous and inherently non-rehabilitative DJJ facilities.

DJJ is remote and prison-like, separating young people from their loved ones and exacerbating underlying trauma. The three existing DJJ institutions were designed according to a punitive and long-discredited correctional model that places hundreds of youth from communities across the state in large facilities. Young people released from DJJ struggle to adjust to life on the outside and find it difficult to navigate the disjointed transition from state custody to county supervision.

By contrast, small, local facilities are better able to maintain safety and promote close relationships between youth and supportive adults. As populations in these close-to-home settings have fallen precipitously, California is well positioned to serve youth in county programs rather than at DJJ. Currently, local facilities are operating at less than one-third of their capacity and could absorb DJJ’s full youth population approximately 13 times over. SB 284 would increase the fee counties pay for placing youth at DJJ, which would spur investment in local alternatives and keep youth closer to home.

This reform closely aligns with Governor Newsom’s vision for transforming juvenile justice. He has pledged to end juvenile imprisonment in California as we know it” and plans to move DJJ from the adult prison system into the Health and Human Services Agency. SB 284 furthers this goal by reducing overreliance on the state system and freeing up state resources to support future reform.

More than 60 community groups, research organizations, professional associations, and individuals have championed SB 284. Its success is due, in large part, to their organizing and action. Among its strongest supporters are a group of five co-sponsoring organizations that represent young people and communities from across the state. Members of the SB 284 sponsor team — CJCJ, Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice, Community Works, MILPA, and Youth Justice Coalition — each bring firsthand knowledge of what it takes to support youth and help them thrive. 

Please join our sponsors and supporters in helping to pass SB 284. You can support youth today by:

1. Making a phone call to your Assemblymember:

Hello, my name is [NAME] from [CITY OR ORGANIZATION]. I’m calling to ask for the Assemblymember’s support for SB 284, which will help to keep young people out of state institutions and closer to their families and communities. For our youth to thrive, they need the support of loved ones and community resources. Please register my support for this important bill.” 

2. Adding your name to the list of supporters by completing this form.

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