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FEBRUARY 10, 2021

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State-wide

Day of Action

Advocate for Juvenile Justice Reform in the State of California

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Email Governor Newsom.  Ask that he honor the intent of S.B.-823, the landmark legislation signed into law in September 2020 to move the California Juvenile Justice System toward a health-based, trauma-informed youth development model.

Email Subject Line: Dear Governor Newsom: Honor the Intent of SB 823

 

Dear Governor Newsom,

 

My name is [NAME] from [CITY or ORG] and I am asking you to honor the intent of SB 823 by making sure that step-down options, judicial discretion and individual treatment plans inclusive of stakeholders beyond probation, all remain included in any SB 823 related trailer bill language. As a community member I also urge you to keep all language related to oversight and accountability over Probation. The closure of DJJ is a move towards the Governor’s vision of a health centered response to youth. What has been proposed by DOF harms that progress.

 

Using the August 24, 2020 SB 823 framework, the Legislature prepared a draft for the “secure track” and provided it to your office in early January. Now, more than three weeks later, a completely separate Administration proposal has been prepared which greatly diverges from the letter and spirit of S.B. 823 and the Legislature’s draft.

 

In addition, the Administration proposal includes separate “technical” changes, that among other things, drastically changes the substantive provisions of S.B. 823. Furthermore, the Administration’s proposal favors a small number of stakeholders in a way that thwarts the intention of S.B. 823 to truly transform the youth justice system and to implement “public health approaches to positive youth development, building the capacity of a continuum of community based approaches.” (S.B. 823, § 1(e).)

 

As directly impacted community members, we applauded S.B. 823, and its recognition that achieving racial justice and supporting the healthy development of young people, calls for close attention to assure that intention and action are aligned at every point in the process. Accordingly, we were disappointed that the Administration proposal omitted many of the guidelines and protections briefly described below, designed to assure that the intentions of S.B. 823 are carried out.

 

  • The secure track must be evidence-based and require the judge, when deciding whether to use the secure track, to consider factors other than the offense,including things like age, maturity, mental health, sexual orientation, and disability AND when approving the treatment plan/program, to consider similar elements and require the program to be trauma-informed, evidence based and culturally responsive.

 

  • The secure track must include a robust role for judges to consider input from others and approve or reject the plan. The administration’s version unacceptably consolidates control with probation and leaves little opportunity for oversight.

 

  • The secure track must include a step-down option for judges to move to less secure settings, youth who are shown to no longer need secure confinement. This will ensure locked facilities are not overused and will incentivize youth who are in secure facilities to work hard in their treatment programs with the possible reward of a step-down program.

 

  • The proposed technical amendments to Welfare and Institutions Code section 208.5 would gut the protections against youth being moved to adult jails that were an important part of SB 823 by denying the protections to youth in pre-adjudication status.

 

  • The proposed technical amendments would weaken the provision on extended commitment to DJJ up to 2023 by requiring not only that a transfer motion be filed in the case, but also that the court find that no juvenile court programs could serve the youth - an almost impossible standard.  This would weaken an important protection against transfer.

 

Thank you for your consideration,

 

[NAME]