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In this issue:

California Sentencing Institute now shows 6‑year county trends

CJCJ’s interactive map now shows trends for local juvenile and criminal justice practices and statewide disparities for 2009 – 2014

The California Sentencing Institute (CASI) criminal and juvenile justice interactive map now shows annual criminal and juvenile justice statistics for 2009 – 2014. CASI provides users with county-by-county visual comparisons illustrating law enforcement practices, incarceration rates, and trends over the course of six years. 

The map allows users to view which counties rely most heavily on incarceration. For example, for its sixth consecutive year, Kings County ranks highest in total incarceration rates. Perhaps contributing to this ranking may be that 92 percent of people in King County’s jails were unsentenced as of December 2014. Given that only 23 percent of Kings County’s 2014 arrests were for violent felonies, this jurisdiction is overlooking an opportunity to reduce its reliance on incarceration through the use of pretrial services, especially for people charged with nonviolent offenses. 

CASI also helps discern which counties could improve their juvenile justice practices. For example, in 2014, Inyo County proved to be most dependent on the state juvenile system, the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Inyo County committed young people to DJJ at the highest rate at a time when California youth crime has plummeted to historic lows, suggesting a failure to prioritize local alternatives for youth. 

To explore more county trends, visit the California Sentencing Institute » 

CJCJ youth spend a day of fun at California’s Great America

CJCJ’s juvenile justice direct services programs hosted a field trip for youth clients to ride thrilling roller coasters, relax, and bond with mentors

This month, CJCJ’s youth programs sponsored clients to attend the annual field trip to California’s Great America. These field trips, like the Youth Justice Mentoring Program’s trip to Alcatraz in June, provide youth with an opportunity to share new experiences with case managers and mentors, and simply enjoy themselves. 

A majority of CJCJ’s juvenile justice service providers accompanied about a dozen young clients on the Great America outing. Clinical case manager, Michael Mendoza, says his group was very adventurous, attempting the more unnerving roller coasters, but also relaxing, eating, and talking about the future. It was really great to spend time with these kids who don’t get to experience this all the time, whether its because of financial issues or just lack of opportunity,” said Mendoza. 

Terence Baugh, CJCJ’s Interim Behavioral Health Services Supervisor, agreed. It’s so wonderful to have this Great America trip because it allows these teenagers to be kids again,” he said. So many of these teenagers have been deprived of their childhood and opportunities to feel safe and play, which are vital experiences for healthy development.”

CJCJ’s juvenile justice staff was glad to provide a reparative experience for the youth in attendance and build lasting bonds with clients outside of day-to-day case management.

Donate to support more youth outings »Learn more about CJCJ’s juvenile justice services » Recent CJCJ report highlighted in national publication

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange publishes an editorial by a CJCJ policy team member on the injustice of prosecuting youth as adults

On July 13th, the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) published an op-ed authored by CJCJ’s Communications and Policy Intern, Rebecca Wegley, titled Prosecuting Youth as Adults Creates Racial Disparities and Justice-by-Geography.”

The editorial highlighted the findings of a recently released report on the prosecution of youth as adults, which was co-authored by CJCJ, the National Center for Youth Law and the W. Haywood Burn’s Institute. This report, The Prosecution of Youth as Adults: A county-level analysis of prosecutorial direct file in California and its disparate impact on youth of color, analyzed district attorneys’ (DAs) decisions to prosecute youth in adult, criminal court without the input of a judge through a process called direct file”. Prosecutors make the decision to direct file behind closed doors without considering a youth’s background, mental health, trauma history, degree of participation in the offense or potential for rehabilitation,” Wegley writes. 

Wegley’s article focuses on the report’s finding that, while the rate of direct file is decreasing for white youth, it has increased for Black and Latino youth. The report also found that California counties employ direct file at levels inconsistent with youth crime. She notes, “[W]hile Yuba and San Diego counties have similar rates of youth arrest…youth living in Yuba County in 2014 were 34 times more likely to be direct filed than youth in San Diego County.”

CJCJ also recently published a report, Justice by Geography: Do Politics Influence the Prosecution of Youth as Adults?, examining the influence of a district attorney’s political party affiliation on direct file. The report found, not only that a majority of DAs in California are Republican, but a youth arrested for a felony in 2014 was 2.4 times more likely to be charged as an adult in a county with a Republican DA compared to a Democratic DA.

Read The Prosecution of Youth as Adults: A county-level analysis of prosecutorial direct file in California and its disparate impact on youth of color” »

Read Justice by Geography: Do Politics Influence the Prosecution of Youth as Adults?” »