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Today CJCJ hosted a group of policy advocates, foundations, and LA City Councilman Tony Cárdenas for a roundtable discussion on state and federal juvenile justice reforms. Councilman Cárdenas has a strong record in juvenile justice policy with his passage of the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (Schiff-Cardenas Act) as a State Assemblyman in 2000 and his work on lifting the gang injunction in Los Angeles. 

The discussion focused on the intersection between efforts in Washington D.C. to advance juvenile justice policy reforms, and the reform trends taking place in California over the last decade. At the federal level, advocates highlighted the struggle to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), a new initiative between the Department of Justice and the Department of Education around school discipline policies, and the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) as real opportunities for reforms, in the face of a challenging political and economic climate. 

In California, policy advocates and foundation representatives emphasized community-based alternatives to incarceration for justice involved youth, the use of flexible funding streams to provide wraparound reentry supports, and the importance of data for analyzing the disparate impact of the juvenile justice system by race, gender, and sexual orientation. Advocates are making progress in the implementation of a 21st Century Juvenile Justice System” across California’s counties and within the infrastructure of the state’s criminal justice system. 

CJCJ’s collaborative effort, the Juvenile Collaborative Reentry Team (JCRT), was highlighted during the meeting. JCRT is a best practice model for an inter-agency approach to case planning and support services for juveniles returning from out-of-home placement. In September 2009, San Francisco was one of only five jurisdictions from around the nation selected as a Second Chance Act National Demonstration Project site by the United States Department of Justice. Since its inception, JCRT has reduced recidivism for youth returning from out-of-home placement, leveraged thousands of dollars in federal and state funding for wraparound services, and has dramatically improved collaborative inter-agency case planning in San Francisco. 

JCRT demonstrates innovation at the local level that can be replicated nationwide. The model integrates important elements of a 21st century approach to juvenile justice. The strengths-based, individualized, and culturally competent services provided through the maximization of flexible funding streams allows youth to be served through a full continuum of care. Through these deliberate and innovative interventions, California can lead the way for change at the nationally level.