An Open Letter to Matthew Cate
1515 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Secretary Cate,
On behalf of Books Not Bars, I am writing in strong support for the closure of Preston youth prison. The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights organizes people-powered campaigns to transform California. Our Books Not Bars campaign works for a juvenile justice system that invests in youth, their families and the community. We represents hundreds of family members of incarcerated youth from across California.
Families have always struggled to maintain ties with their children who are locked up in Preston, the oldest and most remote Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth prison. Family members must drive an average of three hours each way to visit their loved ones. With very little family contact, youth are left to languish in isolated cells or fear for their safety in large dorms. The dilapidated condition of the 19th century buildings and the lack of effective programming for youth make it impossible for rehabilitation to take place.
In the words of parents Jose and Victoria, whose son was recently released from Preston, its closure is a happy occasion- “It is a very cruel place. They abused our son.”
With a shrinking DJJ youth population and an expensive system that fails to help youth get their lives on track, the decision to close Preston is sound politically and fiscally necessary.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office recently reported a $25 billion budget deficit in California. The State must move away from failed policies that have contributed to this economic crisis. We cannot afford to keep Preston open. The lives of our youth are worth far too much.
Books Not Bars strongly supports the closure of Preston and urges you to remain steadfast in your decision.
Sumayyah Waheed, Esq
Director, Books Not Bars, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Stand with Sumayyah and Books Not Bars! If you want to lend your name to the chorus of voices calling on California to close Preston, take action now!