Overview Cameo House Community Options for Youth (COY) Detention Diversion Advocacy Program (DDAP) Expert Witness, Court Navigation, & Sentencing Mitigation Services Juvenile Collaborative Reentry Unit (JCRU) No Violence Alliance (NoVA) Overview Technical Assistance California Sentencing Institute Next Generation Fellowship Legislation Transparency & Accountability

In this issue:

CJCJ’s Cameo House Is a Refuge for Families Amid the Pandemic

Cameo House’s essential workers keep women and children safe during COVID-19. Help us keep Cameo House open for vulnerable families.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CJCJ’s Cameo House has kept its doors open to families impacted by homelessness and incarceration. As a long-term transitional housing and alternative sentencing program, Cameo House serves homeless, justice-involved women and their children. These services have been critical during the pandemic as more justice-involved mothers seek a safe and supportive place to live with their young children.

During this time, Cameo House has welcomed nine new families into its program. For most participants, Cameo House is an alternative to jail or prison. It allows them to reunify with their children while receiving supportive services around parenting, mental health, and substance use. Two current participants were pregnant when they arrived at Cameo House and have since delivered healthy babies. If not for the program, these mothers would have remained incarcerated and their newborns may have entered the foster care system. Instead, they are now bonding with their babies and enjoying the love and support of Cameo House’s community. Cameo House Director Rebecca Jackson says, It’s a joy to guide these women on their personal and parenting journeys, and to help break the cycle of incarceration. With Cameo House’s support, families have the opportunity to reunify and transition to the next chapter of their lives. Cameo House staff help keep families together and provide access to an even broader array of services by building relationships with other community-based organizations. Through one such partnership with the Young Women’s Freedom Center, Cameo House has been able to serve a transitional age youth who needed an immediate safe haven. She is a survivor of intimate partner violence and, since arriving at Cameo House, has succeeded in regaining custody of her two- and three-year-old children.

Unfortunately, a recent budget cut could undermine these successes. Without continued city funding, Cameo House may be forced to close its doors. Please show your support for Cameo House by making a tax-deductible gift today! Donations of any size will help provide our families with essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Make a tax-deductible donation to CJCJ’s Cameo House today »

CJCJ Sponsors a Bill to Reinvest $100M+ in Youth Services

SB 493 wins broad support in its first legislative committee. Now, California is one step closer to returning millions of dollars to communities.

CJCJ is proud to co-sponsor Senate Bill (SB) 493, the PROMYSE (Promoting Youth Success and Empowerment) Act. Authored by Senator Steven Bradford, the bill will reinvest hundreds of millions of dollars from law enforcement into youth services provided by schools, public health agencies, and community-based organizations. SB 493 not only improves spending of the longstanding Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) but also ensures effective reporting and equitable community representation in local grantmaking processes.

This month, the bill cleared its first major hurdle: passing out of California’s Senate Public Safety Committee with a 4 to 1 vote. This victory follows months of planning, organizing, and public outreach by the bill’s 12-member co-sponsor team. And it represents a promising start for one of the biggest pieces of juvenile justice legislation this year.

CJCJ Communications and Policy Analyst Renee Menart provided testimony at the committee hearing, helping to sway key legislators. Renee explained, JJCPA spending hasn’t kept up with massive declines in youth arrests, dropping 83% since 2000, and the accompanying drops in youth referrals to probation.” 

The PROMYSE Act is the result of years of research and advocacy by CJCJ and our partners. In 2018, CJCJ published a report on JJCPA spending across five Bay Area counties and, the following year, we collaborated with other community organizations to successfully request a state audit on JJCPA grant administration. These efforts uncovered troubling JJCPA misuse, including millions spent on punitive probation department programs, such as voluntary probation,” that have swept more youth into the justice system. Meanwhile, the state has done little to hold counties accountable and ensure that funding is being used as intended – to support justice-involved and at-promise” youth. 

This reform comes at a time of great need. Communities that have been over-policed, disparately affected by mass incarceration, and now, hard hit by COVID-19 deserve a say in how JJCPA funds are spent. Decades of misguided spending have propped up a system that consistently criminalizes youth of color. It is time to invest in a new vision for California’s young people. One that recognizes that health, education, and community-based services are essential in preventing youths’ exposure to the justice system.

Please lend your voice to this campaign by submitting a letter of support for the PROMYSE ACT today.

Find out how you can support SB 493, The PROMYSE Act »

Protecting Youth in California’s Division of Juvenile Justice

California’s Division of Juvenile Justice is keeping the public in the dark. CJCJ monitors conditions and publishes DJJ data to increase transparency.

Last November, CJCJ published a report investigating the unchecked spread of COVID-19 inside California’s state-run youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). Since then, cases among youth and staff have continued to rise. DJJ’s inadequate precautions place youths’ health and safety at risk while limiting access to education and rehabilitative services.

As of April 26th, 204 youth and 195 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 in DJJ institutions. This means that at least a quarter of all young people in DJJ’s care have contracted the dangerous virus.

Amid the pandemic and DJJ’s imminent closure, the agency continues to withhold pertinent information from families, attorneys, and the general public. CJCJ is now publishing DJJ-related data as part of our longstanding commitment to monitoring the health and safety of youth at DJJ. This trove of otherwise unavailable reports sheds light on conditions inside DJJ, including its population, staffing, violence levels, medical and mental health care, and programming.

Additionally, we recently released an analysis of youth complaints to the DJJ ombudsman. It raises question about why ombudsman inquiries reached an all-time low amid the pandemic. In their calls and letters home, youth have shared numerous concerns about DJJ’s handling of the pandemic. These included fears over sick and healthy youth being housed together, staff refusing to wear masks or discounting youths’ symptoms, major cuts to programs and education, and nearly round-the-clock isolation in cells.

Yet the ombudsman recorded just 28 official complaints in 2020. This suggests that youth were left to endure months of isolation and fear without assistance, and points to the need for improved oversight.

Read Youth Filed Fewer Complaints Amid the Pandemic. Is DJJ’s Grievance Process Broken?” »