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The California Juvenile Justice Reentry Partnership (CJJRP), a collaborative effort to improve outcomes for youth released from juvenile justice facilities, was formally announced in 2007. The Partnership included some of the most highly regarded advocacy, legal and research organizations in the juvenile justice field– Commonweal, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), and Youth Law Center (YLC). Haigh-Scatena Foundation provided $780,000 to fund the initiative, the final grant of the foundation’s 40 year history in promoting social change strategies for disadvantaged children, youth and families.

Most kids released from confinement fall into a void back home,” said David Steinhart, director of Commonweal’s Juvenile Justice Program. Schools don’t want them, families can’t control them, and probation officers can’t offer much help. The juvenile justice system is not doing its job at this critical stage.”

While youth crime rates in California were at historic lows, youth returning home from confinement in state and local facilities had high recidivism (re-arrest) rates. According to the state Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) in 2007, 70% of youth paroled from its institutions were rearrested within 2 years, many for serious crimes. DJF also documented extremely high rates of mental health disorders (approximately 70%) and substance abuse histories (exceeding 80%) for its release populations.

When youth exit the system, most return to the environments where they first got in trouble,” said Daniel Macallair, executive director of CJCJ. Aftercare has been an afterthought and without proper pre-release planning and services, youth leaving the system are at very, very high risk of re-offending.”

While the vast majority of youth in both the state and county systems are male, females were a growing percentage and made up 16% of youth released from county probation supervision and 6% of youth released from state facilities. It is imperative that we address the specific needs of girls in the juvenile system, which to date have been largely ignored,” said Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

In 2007, about 130,000 youth were released annually from state and county juvenile justice facilities in California. Connecting these youth with their families, faith leaders and resources both before and after they leave the system will help make this profound transition more successful,” said Carole Shauffer, executive director of YLC. There is hope that we can stop this revolving door back into the system.”

The Haigh-Scatena Foundation was a private grantmaker based in Davis, CA. Improving California’s juvenile justice system had been a central focus for almost 40 years. We have learned that achieving social change requires leadership, expertise, and cooperation. We get all three with this grant,” said Ron Clement, CEO of the Foundation.

California Juvenile Justice Reentry Partnership