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Selena Teji, CJCJ’s Communication Specialist, discussed Phasing Out Juvenile Justice” on KQED’s Forum with Barry Krisberg, director of the Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, and Brian Brown, managing principal analyst at the Legislative Analyst’s Office. 

If you missed the show, go to Phasing Out Juvenile Justice” or review the summary below. 

The above-mentioned experts discussed the following juvenile justice realignment concerns in California. 

Governor Brown has proposed phasing out the state’s Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) over the next three years, realigning the responsibility for the remaining 985 highest needs youthful offenders to the county level. The Legislative Analyst’s Office states this closure could save California more than $100 million. The oppositional viewpoint is that counties do not have the resources or training to care for the state’s highest needs juvenile offenders. Experts such as CJCJ’s Communications Specialist Selena Teji provide rational counterarguments explaining what is in the best interest of the youth. 

Key points Selena brought to the dialogue include: 

~ When counties are accused of not being able to serve this population, it is important to know that the state does not have the capacity to effectively serve this population either. The state is under its 9th year of an ongoing lawsuit against the DJF, due to the unacceptable conditions within the facilities. 

~ Local level governments can better serve this population, as we have seen on the adult side, when counties are given resources and support to facilitate appropriate services for this group of individuals. 

~ When appropriate, regional facilities offer an opportunity for neighboring counties to partner together to serve youth with specialized needs. This can centralize expertise, preventing the development of 58 different systems for the 58 counties in California. 

~ The most effective interventions occur at a point where the offender is most likely to return. This offers the opportunity for an individual to receive step-down services, as well as reentry services, promoting the most successful reintegration into the community. Providing reentry services is one of the most crucial components to ensure successful rehabilitation, so promotion of services as close to the home as possible is ideal. 

~ High needs youth are best served when they are kept close to their families, because they will eventually be released and reenter into their own communities. State commitments often require youth to be sent far away from home, breaking the ties between a youth and his/​her family.