One Step Closer to Closing California's Youth Prisons
Earlier this year, Governor Brown released a budget proposal that included closing California’s notoriously abusive Division of Juvenile Justice. Today, both the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees voted to approve most of the Governor's budget proposal, including closing the DJJ and funding counties to treat youth instead. This gets us one step closer to closing down the decrepit state system!
Since I started working with Books Not Bars over four years ago, this is the closest we’ve been to shutting down the DJJ. The building momentum has me feeling so many different emotions. When I first learned about the DJJ in law school, I couldn’t believe that such a place existed in the United States. Youth with severe histories of abuse and deep mental health issues locked up in isolated cells with little to no programming. Every day filled with violence and degradation. Prison staff telling youth that they are worthless. I felt deeply ashamed of our state leaders who allowed such a system to grow and continue to fester.
Fast forward to today. Never mind the naysayers that want to continue to prop up a system that harms our youth. A new sense of hope and opportunity fills my heart. Lawmakers are now saying what our families have been saying for years: DJJ is broken and irreparable.
Next week, the budget goes into the Conference Committee where members from each house will flesh out the details and hash out any discrepancies between each house’s approved budgets. After that, a full floor vote where 2/3 of the legislators must approve it before it lands on the Governor’s desk. So between now and the Governor’s desk, we still have a ways to go. But now, every day is filled with hopeful anticipation. We can actually do this!
Sep 18, 2013
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