California Governor Gavin Newsom intends to focus approximately $12.8 billion of the state budget on transforming the criminal justice system with a focus on public safety, increased rehabilitation, expanded opportunities for reentry, and restorative justice.
California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) will be transferred from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to the Department of Health and Human Services effective July 1, 2020. The state’s juvenile justice system will also get a new name to match its mission: the Department of Youth and Community Restoration.
California is one of only 13 states where juvenile justice is still housed within a corrections or public safety agency. And over the past decade and a half, California, too, has moved away from the prison model, shifting more and more young people in the system into county-run programs.
Earlier this year, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice released a report alleging poor conditions within the DJJ’s three aging lockups, where the climate remains violent and dangerous despite the youth-offender population in custody declining by 93 percent since 1996.
Newsom say’s his plan to move the juvenile justice system into the Dept. of Health and Human Services “better aligns California’s approach with its rehabilitative mission and core values—providing trauma-informed and developmentally appropriate services in order to support a youth’s return to their community, preventing them from entering the adult system, and further enhancing public safety.” With the new move, “California will be better positioned to achieve this mission.”
Focus on Training and Career Pathways
The California budget also includes $1.2 million in ongoing funding for the transition and staff training. The Newsom administration will launch a new training institute to train each staff member “on best practices so they can further the new Department of Youth and Community Restoration’s rehabilitative mission.”
An additional $1.4 million will go toward creating a partnership between the new juvenile department and the California Conservation Corps to launch an apprenticeship-focused reentry program. Through the program, kids will benefit from job skill-building and help “accessing career pathways” once they are released from lockup.
Learn more about state budget funds allocated to Juvenile Justice Reform here.