California is facing financial ruin. Its schools have been forced to make devastating cuts that could put a whole generation of children at a competitive disadvantage -- and at higher risk of turning to crime. By refusing sensible reforms to save money in our corrections system, more children may lose their health care, more teachers may be laid off, and more health and safety programs may be cut.
Toshi Priest joined other California mothers such as Sharon James of Merced and the Books Not Bars campaign of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, based in Oakland, for a press conference at the state Capitol on May 7. Speakers called for ending the policy of time-adds for youths (ages 14 to 25) in DJJ facilities. To this end, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Books Not Bars support passage of Assembly Bill 999 (AB 999), which she introduced February 27.
Since the state entered into a consent decree in November 2004 to improve conditions in its juvenile prisons, those conditions have not improved to any appreciable degree, according to Donald Specter of the Prison Law Office. And Alameda Superior Court Judge Judge Jon S. Tigar, who approved the consent decree, wrote in an Oct. 27 order that while remedial plans were developed as required, the state "has not complied with the deadlines in any of them."
Reporter Tim Lantz: "By letting kids call or write to their family, clergy and legal council in their own language, plus require the Department of Juvenile Justice to communicate better with families. Another bill called the Keeping Families Whole Act - is expected to amend laws which prevent parents behind bars from reuniting with their children after release..."
Listen to the radio news story (30 sec):<br>
Calls to and from family give the incarcerated incentive to behave
Huddled against the wall, an 18-year-old second-degree murderer named Jeffrey Stevenson crooked a telephone into his neck, barely talking, but staying in touch with the transmitted sounds of life on the outside.
Under Assembly Bill 1300, a new law lobbied by Books Not Bars and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was one of at least four telephone calls that Stevenson will get to make every month, regardless of his disciplinary status.