‚ÄúFor too long, America has chosen to play politics by enacting so-called ‚Äėtough on crime‚Äô slogans such as ‚Äúthree strikes and you‚Äôre out‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúyou do the adult crime, you do the adult time‚ÄĚ. As appealing as these policies may sound, the impacts of codifying these sound bites range from a negligible reduction in crime to an actual increase in crime‚ÄĚ
– U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (VA)
In 2010, 185,867 juveniles were arrested in California. ¬† Nearly eight out of ten of those arrested were referred to county juvenile probation departments. ¬†Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the country, has the largest number of juvenile arrests‚ÄĒover 49,000 in 2009 ‚ÄĒand the largest juvenile justice system of any county in the country.
Committee Work in This Area
1. ¬†The Missouri Model: ¬†In an effort to introduce a more therapeutic, rehabilitative juvenile justice model to Los Angeles County, Policy Committee members organized and led a trip of 25 County officials and academics to the state of Missouri to observe its renowned juvenile justice model. ¬†Missouri‚Äôs system has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the nation and does so at costs of one-third of Los Angeles‚Äôs cost per child. ¬†Committee members have been following up to help Los Angeles build a new prototype facility based upon the Missouri system; progress continues.
2. ¬†Vocational Training: ¬†Committee Member Barbara Moore is actively involved with bringing a first-of-its-kind vocational training program from the Pipe Fitters and Plumbers Union to the incarcerated youth at Challenger Memorial Youth Center in Lancaster. ¬†They will learn fundamentals of these lucrative trades, receive a certificate of completion, and be given a pathway into the field of work as an apprentice. ¬†Comprehensive training programs such as this provide an opportunity for the youth to develop skills that can be used to enhance themselves, their families and their neighborhoods after reentry into the community. ¬†Such opportunities are essential to help prevent recidivism.
3. ¬†Active Involvement on Commissions and Boards: ¬†In an effort to substantially affect the direction of Los Angeles County with regard to its treatment of youth, Public Policy Committee members have joined numerous public and private committees and boards to enhance the influence of their work, including; the County Education Reform Taskforce, Probation Commission Inspection Committee, Library Committee, Probation Education Committee, and the Adoption Center Board, to name a few. ¬†Their impact has helped to improve conditions at the juvenile camps and halls in areas of personal hygiene, access to services, vocational training, program enrichment, and education reforms.
4. ¬†Advocacy: ¬†The Policy Committee has been involved in advocacy on behalf of the Youth PROMISE Act, a piece of federal legislation authored by Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia which would provide states with funds to be used at their discretion for programs which prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system. ¬†Everychild President, Jacqueline Caster, has visited the White House for the purpose of advancing this bill as well as to urge the current administration to make juvenile justice reform a priority. She has also joined the board of the national organization, Campaign for Youth Justice, based in Washington, D.C., whose mission is to stop the practices of housing children in adult prisons
5. ¬†Youth Sentencing: ¬†The Policy Committee has been a strong voice in the movement in California to end the practice of sentencing minors to life without the possibility of parole. ¬†The United States is the only nation in the world with such a practice.