Advocates Celebrate Historic Proposal to Close Youth Prisons

Seven Year Battle For DJJ Closure Hits Milestone With Governor’s Announcement

For Immediate Release:  1/10, 2010
Contact: Abel Habtegeorgis
Media Relations Manager
(510) 428-3939 x232
abel@ellabakercenter.org

(Oakland, CA 12:27pm)- The
Ella Baker Center and its Books Not Bars campaign celebrates Governor
Jerry Brown's budget proposal that eliminates the harmful, abusive
Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth prisons.  For seven years,
families of youth imprisoned across California have been calling for a
better way; the elimination of DJJ and reallocation of those funds to
more effective programs is a huge step forward.  The Governor's proposal would phase out DJJ by June 2014, and fund counties to treat the youth instead. 

"Today,
I rejoice," said Laura Brady of Fresno, whose son was imprisoned in DJJ
for six years.  "My joy is bittersweet--the Division of Juvenile
Justice did nothing for my son except damage him.  He still suffers to
this day from years of DJJ's violence, abuse and neglect.  However, a
California without the DJJ promises a brighter future for its sons,
daughters and families."

The
Division of Juvenile Justice currently locks up 1300 young people and
costs over $215,000 per youth per year.  Despite its exorbitant cost, it
delivers an appalling 81% recidivism rate, one of the worst in the
country.

The Ella Baker Center will continue our aggressive efforts to ensure that the Legislature passes the prisons closure proposal.

"In
2004, we set out to transform California's juvenile justice system to
invest in youth, their families, and communities," said Sumayyah Waheed,
Director of Books Not Bars.  "DJJ youth prisons are not just
abusive--they're a budget sinkhole.  By shuttering the decrepit
warehouses, Governor Brown signals that California is ready to do right
by youth, and do right by taxpayers."

To view the budget proposals
http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/pdf/BudgetSummary/Realignment.pdf

Take Action Now to make sure our lawmakers follow through with what is best for our youth.