Governor Proposes to Shut Down Division of Juvenile Justice

For Immediate Release: 1/6/2012
Contact: Abel Habtegeorgis
Media Relations Manager
(510) 428-3939 x232
abel@ellabakercenter.org

Multi-Year Battle For DJJ Closure Nears End With Governor’s Announcement

(SACRAMENTO,CA) Today, Governor Brown proposed to close the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth prisons. Brown’s 2012-2013 budget proposes that the DJJ stop taking youth beginning in 2013, eventually eliminating the state’s three remaining youth prisons.

For almost a decade, the Ella Baker Center, through its award winning Books Not Bars campaign, has highlighted the abuses of the DJJ to the California public. Books Not Bars also organizes the largest network of families impacted by California’s youth prisons.  The state has spent over $1 billion in the last three years on the dysfunctional youth prison system, which maintains an appalling 81% recidivism rate.

“Today, I rejoice,” said Laura Talkington-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.”

In 2011, the Governor made a similar proposal.  Over 2,500 Californians joined us to support DJJ closure.  Eventually, however, Governor Brown caved to pressure from special interests, and kept the youth prisons open.  

 “The state simply cannot afford to prop up its expensive, failed youth prison system at the  expense of schools, hospitals, and libraries,” said Sumayyah Waheed of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. “Now is the time to reverse the reality of too much money wasted and lives harmed by the abuse, neglect, and violence of the Division of Juvenile Justice.”

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights is also launching a petition calling on the Governor and state legislative leadership to not back down on this opportunity to reform juvenile justice in California, and save taxpayer dollars. 

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About the Ella Baker Center:
Celebrating 15 years of People Powered Change in 2011, The Ella Baker Center is named for an unsung hero of the civil rights movement who inspired and guided emerging leaders. We build on her legacy by giving people opportunities and skills to work together to strengthen our communities so that all of us can thrive.