Where is the Treatment?
California faces many important choices given the current budget crisis. This reality means, to me, that time is past due to shut down all state youth correctional facilities because they are not rehabilitating our incarcerated youth and our resources are needed more in our schools and communities.
I used to work as a youth counselor at Social Advocates for Youth. I have met many families whose children were sent to those state facilities and youth who have shared their experiences in state youth correctional facilities. More often than not, these youth come out very withdrawn and without the necessary tools to rehabilitate. These youth are mistreated while incarcerated. Often they have even been sexually abused by other youth and in some cases by staff. Some of these youth are so humiliated by these experiences that they keep it a secret and develop some trauma to their psyche. A system that promotes violence and recreates trauma is unable to rehabilitate.
Where is the treatment for these youth? They have not been given the tools to cope or learn trades so that they can get a job and become a successfully employed person once they get out. Most of these youth end up back in a correctional facility in an endless revolving door syndrome. Since the DJJ failed to give them new skills or knowledge, they end up resorting back to drugs, prostitution, stealing, etc.
I know that if they were given the right treatment programs, even the youth who have gotten in the most serious trouble could turn their lives around. Treatment, and not the abusive prisons we have now, is the only healthy, real choice for our State. Close the DJJ!
Feb 22, 2013
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