In recent years, many aspects of the justice system have come under increased scrutiny, and a number of states have taken a closer look at how they handle juvenile offenders.
As a part of reform efforts, California legislators have passed a bill that will close the state’s juvenile prisons.
Closing of state-run youth prisons
Prior to the passing of this new law, state-run juvenile facilities housed people between the age of 15 and 25 that committed serious crimes. Under the new law, counties will provide local detention for these young offenders instead. The remaining youth prisons have stopped accepting new inmates and, after the release of all current inmates, will close permanently.
Many advocates for justice system reform applaud the plan to shut down the state’s notoriously violent and problematic juvenile prisons and to house incarcerated youth closer to their homes. Proponents argue that this will allow young people to stay closely connected to their families and communities and reduce the rate of recidivism.
However, there is some worry that some counties may have trouble integrating more serious offenders into their current juvenile facilities. As a result, these counties may send more youth to adult prisons instead. Additionally, smaller counties could have trouble providing resources to accommodate young people with unique concerns, like mental health conditions.
The closing of state-run juvenile prisons marks a major shift in how California handles young people who have committed a crime. Youth offenders and their families are likely to see even more changes over the coming years.