Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Say 'Howdy' to Juvienation

Say "howdy" to a new blog on juvenile justice topics, Juvienation, which is:
written and published by Mark Sorkin, a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. It is a news site covering developments in juvenile justice, a forum for exploring ideas on how to reform the system, and a resource for anyone interested in or curious about the subject. Along with regularly updated blog posts, Juvienation is also a repository of links to relevant articles, policy papers, websites and books.
Sorkin's blog also turned me on to a few other juvie-oriented websites I'd not previously perused that seem worthy of Grits readers' attention:


Anonymous said...

Counties may jail juvenile offenders
State to limit youth prisons to most serious criminals
By Bruce Gerstman, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 09/05/2007 02:36:00 AM PDT

Starting this week, the state will limit who it accepts in youth prisons,
forcing East Bay juvenile authorities to find a way to lock up others.
The state's Juvenile Justice Department, formerly the California Youth
Authority, will accept only male minors whose most recent offenses are of the most
serious nature, such as murder, kidnapping and robbery.
The aim is to cut in half the 2,600 wards in the state's Department of
Juvenile Justice during the next two years.
Youths whose most recent offenses are less serious will slowly be released on
parole or by judges granting petitions for their early release.
One effect of the change enacted by the Legislature is that county
prosecutors could begin charging more juveniles as adults to make sure they go to
Another may be a move to construct local juvenile jails.
The new law, Senate Bill 81, "really defines our population as being the
highest risk and highest need population," said the Juvenile Justice
Department's chief deputy secretary Bernard Warner.
But the law has left county justice officials in a quandary: What to do with
minors who have not committed the most violent crimes but do not fit well in
county custody because they are too violent or are otherwise unsuited for the
unlocked facilities run for juveniles.
Until now, judges had the choice of sending young offenders to the state's
locked facilities, unlocked group homes overseen by the county or unlocked
county-run ranches.
Alameda County offenders go to Camp Wilmont Sweeney in San Leandro and Contra
Costa's go to Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron. Some may go
to ranches and group homes around the state.
"Most of the people we have sent to (youth prisons) are people who should be
there," said Contra Costa County Presiding Juvenile Judge Lois Haight. "It's
the only really secure place we can send them."
Simply putting fences around county juvenile camps and farms is not an
option, Haight said.
"It's not a good practice to put very violent criminals with others who are
not so violent," she said.
The county juvenile programs, which have had modest success in reforming
juveniles, would have a difficult time accommodating more hardened youths.
Alameda and Contra Costa probation directors said their departments are
planning ways to work with the juveniles they otherwise would have recommended
for youth prisons.
Contra Costa might need to build a locked facility for juvenile offenders,
Chief Probation Officer Lionel Chatman said. The county's Juvenile Hall is
intended only as a temporary holding place during juvenile trials. It lacks
long-term therapy programs that the ranch offers.
The state will give money to each county to provide therapy and other
services for those who would have gone to youth prisons.
The more severe alternative would be trying more juveniles as adults. Contra
Costa's chief juvenile prosecutor said he may consider that option.
Following conviction in adult courts, the minors would be sentenced to county
jail or state prison, said Daniel Cabral, head of the District Attorney's
Office juvenile division.
Some of the juveniles in youth prisons had committed violent offenses in the
past, but judges sent them to county-run ranches to give them a chance. Then,
they re-offended and landed in a state facility on a less serious crime.
Judges can no longer send them to youth prisons on the less serious crime.
This leaves defense attorneys worried that judges might start quickly sending
first-time violent offenders to youth prisons under the assumption that the
boy or girl will re-offend.
"Are judges going to stop giving them the chance?" asked Alameda County
Deputy Public Defender Sheri Schoenberg. "It's a real concern of ours."
The change also might result in counties having to supervise some young adult
parolees previously under state parole authorities. A parolee who re-offends
with a nonviolent crime would be the county's responsibility but could not
be sent to Juvenile Hall or a ranch.
Alameda County Chief Probation Officer Donald Blevins said he will probably
have them placed in county jail.
One justice figure saw a bright side to the changes.
"Any program is better than what youth prisons offer," said Sarah Wilner, who
leads Contra Costa's deputy public defender juvenile division.
"They're getting no help at (the Department of Juvenile Justice). There's no
one-on-one counseling," Wilner said. "I have kids who are still in their
rooms 23 hours a day."
Reach Bruce Gerstman at 925-952-2670 or _bgerstman@cctimes. com_
(mailto:bgerstman@cctimes. com) .

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Yup, it's pretty wild - they're basically dismantling what's left of the youth prisons in California. I'd written a little about that here.