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California, Like Other States, Needs Independent Monitor to Solidify Reform, Ward Off Abuses

Originally posted in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE).

CJCJ Policy Analyst Maureen Washburn authors an Op-Ed in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) about California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which has been mired in scandal for much of its history and requires independent monitoring to hold the system accountable.

From the article:

Too often in the history of youth corrections, facilities descend — without immediate detection by the public — into disrepair, violence and systemic neglect. Though scandal is often followed by calls for change, large congregate institutions have shown themselves, time and again, to be impervious to real reform. Institutions are, by nature, susceptible to abuses and require permanent safeguards against mistreatment.

One essential safeguard is the presence of an independent monitor. Every youth facility in the nation should be accountable to a monitoring body that conducts unannounced inspections, receives and investigates complaints, documents and aggregates complaint information and issues periodic reports to lawmakers and the public. Some states already maintain a robust monitoring apparatus, which can include nongovernmental organizations with unfettered access to the facilities, an ombudsperson who responds to grievances or a committee of state legislators that conducts routine inspections.

To achieve genuine accountability, however, these monitors must remain independent of corrections departments, with budgets, staff and office spaces that are distinct from the agencies they oversee.

Read the full article on Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) »

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