California’s Juvenile Justice System (“CAJJS”) is a complex network of county and state policies and programs enacted with a rehabilitative purpose intended “[t]o provide opportunities for growth and change by identifying and responding to the unique needs of our youth… through effective treatment, education, and interventions in order to encourage positive lifestyles, reduce recidivism, strengthen families, and protect our communities.” However, the rehabilitative policies and programs of state-run correctional entities has failed to accomplish these goals. Beginning in the mid-2000s, California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (“DJJ”) has been responsible for the successful rehabilitation of juveniles convicted of serious crimes, such as rape, robbery, and murder. Conversely, county governments, generally, were responsible for rehabilitating juveniles that committed other lower-level crimes. During the summer of 2021, California enacted legislation beginning the process of permanently closing all DJJ facilities by 2023, effectively shifting DJJ’s rehabilitative responsibilities to county governments. With county governments taking over DJJ’s responsibility of rehabilitating juveniles committed for more serious crimes, it is imperative to evaluate the results of DJJ’s rehabilitative policies and programs thus far and provide alternatives addressing their shortcomings. Through such evaluation, this article attains an understanding regarding the characteristics of successful rehabilitative policies and programs and what objectives should be pursued to embody these characteristics. By informing the implementation of policies and programs by county governments, CAJJS is more likely to achieve its rehabilitative goals.
I. Introduction and Background to the California Juvenile Justice System
The ultimate goal of CAJJS is to rehabilitate offending youth. In line with this goal, California law is designed to accomplish these rehabilitative goals by (1) providing adequate care, treatment, and guidance to offending youth and (2) ensuring the protection and safety of the public.1 In recent California history, however, entities responsible for accomplishing California’s rehabilitative goals have failed repeatedly by implementing policies and programs that do not embody characteristics of rehabilitative success.2 Historically, state-run correctional facilities have been large congregate institutions prone to scandals and violence.3 Such a trend of scandal and violence can be observed from severe floggings and isolation practices inflicted on youth by the San Francisco Industrial School and the widespread abuse of the California Youth Authority.4
Following the proceedings of the Farrell Lawsuit,5 California entered into a consent decree, which shaped DJJ policies and programs.6 Although the Farrell Lawsuit refocused the DJJ on a path towards successful rehabilitation, the DJJ has not fulfilled their duty of accomplishing CAJJS’s rehabilitative goals because it has failed to implement policies and programs embodying characteristics of rehabilitative success. Rather, DJJ policies and programs prevented meaningful access to rehabilitative services, created barriers to successful rehabilitation, and failed to provide specific and relevant rehabilitative needs at all levels.
In 2021, the California Legislature enacted legislation ending the commitment of juveniles into DJJ facilities, with some exceptions, and closing the DJJ altogether by May 2023.7 DJJ’s rehabilitative responsibilities will be shifted to county governments, including rehabilitation of juveniles formerly under the responsibility of DJJ.8 This shift in responsibility necessitates examining the rehabilitative success of policies and programs implemented by the DJJ and county governments as well as those recommended by independent groups reporting on the CAJJS. Such examination will result in an understanding of both the characteristics that successful rehabilitative policies and programs embody (rehabilitative characteristics) as well as the rehabilitative objectives which must be pursued in order to embody such rehabilitative characteristics.
While important to rehabilitative success, specific rehabilitative services or guiding principles alone do not equate to successful rehabilitation, and the DJJ is a prime example of this. Successful juvenile rehabilitation requires the implementation of policies and programs which embody certain characteristics, including: (1) removing barriers to successful rehabilitation, (2) providing meaningful access to rehabilitative services, and (3) addressing specific and relevant juvenile needs at all levels. The need to use the embodiment of these characteristics as a metric for rehabilitative success comes from an understanding of DJJ’s shortcomings as well as the overlapping nature of other metrics for rehabilitative success.9 In order to embody such characteristics, policies and programs must be implemented with a focus on accomplishing certain overlapping objectives. The success of accomplishing such objectives can be measured in multiple ways; some metrics to consider include, but are not limited to, academic proficiency, rates of violence, and employment following release.
Part I of this paper provides introduction and background regarding the events and policies relevant to the current state of the CAJJS. Part II will discuss the DJJ broadly, including demographics, relevant law, and metrics for rehabilitative success. Part III will discuss the success and failures of DJJ’s policies and programs, as learning opportunities to help identify the characteristics of successful rehabilitation. Part IV will discuss the characteristics embodied by successful rehabilitative policies and programs as well as objectives that must be pursued by county governments in order to embody those aforementioned characteristics of rehabilitative success, as informed by a thorough evaluation of policies and programs implemented by the DJJ, county governments, and recommendations by outside organizations.
In the past two decades, the California Legislature has made significant changes to CAJJS due to a lengthy history of juveniles being negatively impacted by their commitment to the CAJJS.10 Investigations into the CAJJS’ treatment of Juveniles in the late-90s and early-2000s spurred the Farrell Lawsuit, leading to systemic changes and the implementation of the DJJ’s contemporary policies and programs.11 The Farrell Lawsuit alleged that the CYA was illegally spending funds on policies, procedures and practices illegal under California law, resulting in their failure to provide adequate treatment and rehabilitation for juveniles.12 The newly formed DJJ, agreed to develop and implement remedial plans in addition to an Integrated Behavioral Treatment Model in order to satisfy their rehabilitative requirements upon entering a consent decree in 2004.13
In 2007, Senate Bill 81 (“SB 81”), the “Juvenile Justice Realignment” bill further altered the CAJJS by limiting the types of offenses which may result in juvenile commitment to the DJJ.14 In February 2016, the Farrell Lawsuit was terminated, releasing the DJJ from court oversight following a finding that DJJ had sufficiently complied with the requirements of the remedial plans.15 DJJ’s release from the Farrell Lawsuit halted the routine inspections and reporting, preventing transparency.16 Investigations and reports by the Center on Juvenile Criminal Justice have shown that DJJ policies and programs repeatedly failed to accomplish the rehabilitative goals of the CAJJS.17
The summer of 2021 was a turning point for CAJJS given California enacting legislation to close DJJ facilities indefinitely by 2023.18 Closure of the DJJ, necessitates an examination of DJJ’s contemporary success and failures in accomplishing the CAJJS’s rehabilitative goals. Despite DJJ’s efforts upon entering the Farrell consent decree, the DJJ has largely failed to accomplish CAJJS’s rehabilitative goals. This failure is evidenced by multiple metrics, including poor academic performance, exposure to trauma, and a pervasive environment of violence and relatively high juvenile recidivism rates. DJJ’s failures can be attributed to the implementation of policies and programs which do not embody characteristics of rehabilitative success. Closure of the DJJ will result in county governments inheriting DJJ’s responsibilities of rehabilitating the juveniles currently committed to the DJJ.19 It is necessary for county governments to learn from DJJ’s failures to ensure effective implementation of policies and programs which embody characteristics of rehabilitative success. Without such efforts, CAJJS will continue the cycle of failing the juveniles it is responsible for rehabilitating.
II. Division of Juvenile Justice at a Glance
A. Relevant Law
The mission of the CAJJS serves two purposes: (1) serve the best interests of offending minors by providing adequate care, treatment, and guidance so that they do not re-offend, and (2) ensure protection and safety for the public.20 CAJJS aims to serve these purposes through rehabilitation rather than punishment, however, certain punishment consistent with the goals of rehabilitation may be appropriate as long as punishments are not retributive in nature.21
California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 202 (Section 202) requires that juveniles under the jurisdiction of the CAJJS, receive care, treatment, and guidance that: (1) is in their best interest, (2) holds them accountable for their behavior, (3) is appropriate for their circumstances, and (4) conforms with the interests of public safety and protection.22 Section 202 further emphasizes the importance of maintaining a minor’s familial ties when in the minor’s best interest.23 Participants in the juvenile justice system must hold themselves accountable for its results.24 CAJJS bodies responsible for adhering to Section 202 requirements must provide offending juveniles with comprehensive education, training, treatment, and rehabilitative services.25
California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 1700 (Section 1700) requires CAJJS to provide opportunities for community restoration, victim restoration, and offender training emphasizing the importance of juvenile rehabilitation rather than retributive punishment. Section 1700 requires that CAJJS entities to protect society from criminal activity through secure placement of offending youths in managing facilities that are effectively and efficiently operated.
California’s decision to close the DJJ has resulted in duties and responsibilities of the DJJ being transferred to county governments beginning July 1, 2021.28 As a result, county governments shall be provided annual funding to fulfill the DJJ’s duties and responsibilities.29 Pending the final closure of the DJJ, a court may continue to commit offending juveniles to the DJJ who are: (1) otherwise eligible to be committed under existing law, and (2) in whose case a motion to transfer the case from juvenile court to adult court was filed.30
B. Rehabilitation Versus Retribution
It has been established that the goal of the CAJJS and DJJ, is to rehabilitate offending juveniles, rather than seek retributive justice. The difference between these approaches is that rehabilitation focuses on addressing criminogenic factors in order to correct an individual’s criminal behavior, while retribution focuses on punishing an individual’s criminal behavior because it is deserved.31 The need to take a rehabilitative approach to criminal justice is evidenced by indications that human behavior is influenced greater by external factors influencing an individual than conscious will.32 The justification for a rehabilitative rather than retributive approach is even stronger in the case of juvenile justice, as research shows juveniles are less mentally developed, more susceptible to peer pressure, and their behavior is more malleable compared to adults.33 Thus, with these considerations in mind, a rehabilitative approach is far more appropriate than a retributive approach.
C. DJJ Demographics
The overall population of the CAJJS declined dramatically due to a significant decrease in the juvenile arrest rate, from a peak of 20,409 juveniles in 1996 to 4,846 juveniles in 2017.34 DJJ’s population was approximately 650 juveniles in 2018, decreasing by 93% since 1996, and the average juvenile age was 19.35 The total of DJJ’s release cohorts declined from 1,404 juveniles for the 2007-2008 release period to 220 juveniles for the 2014-2015 release period.36 Disparities among racial and geographic lines exist amongst DJJ’s population. African American and Latino youth are confined for violent offenses at rates higher than White youth, 1.5 times and 1.7 times respectively.37 The disproportionate confinement rates result in African American and Latino youth making up 87% of DJJ’s population. DJJ’s population reflects geographical disparities as well, approximately half of the DJJ’s population consists of juveniles from just 5 of California’s 58 counties.38 The demographics of DJJ’s release cohorts reflect both the decrease and disparity of DJJ population as Hispanic and African American youth were over 80% of the population for DJJ’s release population from the 2011-2012 release period through the 2014-2015 release period.39
D. Metrics of Rehabilitative Success
The rehabilitative success of policies and programs may be measured by many metrics which often overlap and influence one another. These metrics are established by the need to determine the outcomes and impacts rehabilitative policies and programs have had on juveniles, as such outcomes and impacts indicate rehabilitative success. Since the outcomes and impacts of policies and practices are indicative of whether a juvenile is better or worse off than before receiving rehabilitative services, metrics to evaluate the juvenile’s substantive experiences and development are required. Such metrics include recidivism rates, educational attainment, exposure to violence and abuse, finding stable housing and employment following release, and more.
Due to the intertwined nature of these metrics, however, they often influence each other; thus, the isolation of one metric inadequate for determining whether impacts and outcomes regarding the policy and program in question indicate successful rehabilitation. An example of these overlapping factors influencing each other is visible when viewing the impact and outcomes of exposure to violence and trauma. A juvenile’s exposure to violence and trauma impacts the outcomes of other metrics such as, educational attainment, successful reentry, and recidivism, by creating barriers to successful rehabilitation. For this reason, it serves no beneficial purpose to measure rehabilitative success by examining exposure to violence as a sole metric. Rather, metrics of success should be evaluated in tandem with each other. Evaluation of multiple metrics in unison will illuminate the general characteristics of successful rehabilitative policies and programs that will position the juveniles for success when leaving the CAJJS. Such evaluations will also pinpoint objectives for policies and programs which should be pursued to result in the best impact and outcomes possible.
III. Evaluation of Policies and Programs Implemented by the DJJ
An understanding of the characteristics that lead to rehabilitative success is attained through an examination of various DJJ policies and programs. The policies and programs that are examined reflect the impact and outcomes of juveniles receiving services from the DJJ in line with the CAJJS’s rehabilitative mission. The impact and outcomes of DJJ policies and practices have on juveniles is evaluated by the various overlapping metrics of rehabilitative success discussed above.
A. DJJ Facilities
In 2018, DJJ’s population of approximately 650 juveniles was distributed across three correctional facilities, Chad, O.H., and Ventura, and one conservation camp (“DJJ Facilities” collectively).40 All DJJ Facilities are located in isolated areas, highlighting an outdated practice that juveniles must be removed from their communities to resolve delinquent behavior.41 The justification for this outdated practice is the power for the state to act as “loco parentis” (in place of parents), which authorizes the state to remove the juvenile from their home if the parents were found to inadequately protect and provide for the juvenile.42 In practice, the remoteness and inaccessibility of DJJ facilities prevents juveniles’ from maintaining meaningful familial and communal connections43 creating a barrier to the successful juvenile rehabilitation.
During 2018, the population of all three DJJ’s correctional facilities exceeded the recommended standard set by the American Correctional Association.44 The excess capacity often resulted in interpersonal conflicts that trigger violence amongst the juvenile population.45 In many instances, juveniles have experienced prior trauma before commitment to the DJJ; however, DJJ facilities’ prison-like environment further compounds juvenile trauma by exposing juveniles to compounding trauma, violence, and abuse.46 Research conducted by The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice reflects the prevalence of trauma amongst incarcerated youth revealing high rates of PTSD as well as exposure to traumatic events.47 Many youths in the juvenile justice system suffer long-term health and psychological impairments as a result of trauma they experience.48
Additionally, the physical structures of DJJ facilities are designed in a manner that permits violating the privacy of juveniles.49 Single-cell units at Chad allow staff to violate juvenile privacy through constant supervision including when juveniles use the restroom.50 A stressor that is ever present in the mind of juveniles, as they express concerns and wariness of voyeurism during interviews with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.51 The physical structure of O.H. units violate the privacy of juveniles because it subjects juveniles showering in the bathroom to be left within full view of their peers and staff and potentially exposing juveniles to trauma.52 The traumatic conditions within DJJ facilities, paired with a juvenile’s prior history of trauma are compounding factors creating barriers to successful rehabilitation. While past trauma cannot be easily cured, DJJ facilities can implement better privacy and safety standards to create a less traumatic environment for juveniles. In fact, the physical structure of the Ventura facility protects juveniles by using privacy curtains allowing staff to monitor youth safety through curtain gaps at the head and feet without violating juvenile privacy.53
B. DJJ Staff
Just as the physical structure of DJJ facilities impacts the outcomes and experiences of juveniles, so too does the staff within them. DJJ’s hiring practices emphasize the importance of hiring Youth Correctional Officers and Youth Correctional Counselors with prior experience in correctional work.54 DJJ’s hiring practices, however, fail to emphasize prior experience in child development, rehabilitation, or counseling.55 Such a hiring practice is especially problematic considering that DJJ’s Youth Correctional Counselors lead group programming intended to support the healthy development and successful rehabilitation of juveniles.56 DJJ staff members undergo a minimal mandatory training program, which includes; a 16-week training program, monthly training, on-the-job training, and general training for education and mental health related matters.57 DJJ staff undergo training regarding disability awareness and sexual assault/harassment; however, staff training fails to include a module on the rights of incarcerated juveniles, gender-specific needs, or how to support and protect LGBTQ+ juveniles within DJJ Facilities.58 DJJ hiring practices create barriers to rehabilitating juveniles, as they both fail to emphasize prior rehabilitative experience and fail to train staff regarding the needs and rights of juveniles.
A 2018 report by the Office of the Inspector General found that DJJ was out of compliance with use-of-force policies at higher rates than was found in the state’s adult prisons.59 Additionally, in interviews with investigators, juveniles detailed occurrences of DJJ staff “tossing” a juvenile’s room while they were showering, confiscating and destroying pictures, as well as giving arbitrary write-ups to hinder a juvenile’s ability to visit with loved ones.60
Staffing shortages and a lack of inter-staff collaboration poses a threat to juvenile safety, security, and rehabilitation. The risk to juvenile safety posed by DJJ’s violent environment and frequent use-of-force can be alleviated by adequate staff-to-juvenile ratios, however, the DJJ fails to consistently meet the minimum nighttime ratio recommended to ensure youth and staff safety.61 On average there were 137 staff vacancies at DJJ facilities during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, equating to a 15% vacancy rate.62 Staff absences create an environment in which juveniles do not have consistent supportive adult relationships while in DJJ.63 These issues are further compounded by a lack of staff-collaboration regarding implementation of DJJ’s Integrated Behavioral Treatment Model, the key program to satisfying the requisite remedial plans set forth following the Farrell Lawsuit.64 During interviews with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, however, DJJ staff indicate that implementation of the Model lacks staff collaboration, prioritizing security concerns over treatment.65 Due to these factors, the DJJ staffing is prevented from addressing the specific and relevant rehabilitative needs of juveniles.
C. Juvenile Safety Within the DJJ
Amidst privacy and safety concerns mentioned above, the DJJ has fostered an environment of physical violence within DJJ facilities.66 Impacting the safety of all juveniles, not just the direct victims of violence.67 The prioritization of security concerns over rehabilitative goals, perpetuated by an environment where violence thrives,68 creates barriers to successful rehabilitation and prevents meaningful access to rehabilitative services. In fact, during interviews with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, some juveniles expressed an expectation of violence and a preparedness to fight before arriving at DJJ facilities: “Before I got to DJJ, older people were telling me ‘In [DJJ] you’re going to do hella fighting’ so I came here ready to fight.”69
Violence exhibited amongst DJJ staff as well as juveniles has increased since the end of the Farrell Lawsuit.70 During the August 2017 to July 2018 period, DJJ’s use of force rate was three times greater compared to August 2015 to July 2016 period.71 The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice discovered indications that some DJJ staff feel empowered to abuse their authority given the protection afforded to them by a code of silence––a tacit agreement among staff to overlook misconduct and goes as far as falsifying evidence or testimony to protect a colleague in extreme cases.72 The code of silence sometimes extends to juveniles as well in some cases. In an interview, a DJJ staff member described how a gang’s “shot caller” was tasked with adjudicating peer grievances for his unit using his influence to dissuade peers from filing certain grievances against staff. 73
In the 30-month period following the Farrell Lawsuit’s dismissal, an average of 33 juveniles per 100 were involved in some kind of violent incident each month, including: riots (termed “group disturbances”), fights (“mutual combat”), beatings (“batteries”), and forced sexual acts.74 The average rate of juvenile involvement in violence each month per 100 during the August 2017 to July 2018 period increased 12% from the August 2015 to July 2016 period.75 Concurrently during the same time period, DJJ Facilities saw a 49% increase in the rate of juvenile beatings, a 13% increase in the rate of juveniles involved in riots, but an 8% decline in the rate of juveniles involved in fights.76 DJJ’s inability to control violence within their facilities results in a reliance on policies and practices, which encourage isolation tactics as a means to behavioral management thereby exposing juveniles to trauma.77 When riots or other serious violent incidents occur at DJJ, for example, some unit are placed on a form of lockdown referred to as a Limited Program.78 Limited Program restricts juveniles to the cells, limiting their access to school, religious services, or other rehabilitative services.79 From August 2017 to July 2018, DJJ living units experienced a total of 260 total days of Limited Program within living units at DJJ.80 During the same period, roughly 968 class periods were canceled due to concerns regarding safety and security.81 Research indicates that isolating individuals in a single cell lacking social interaction can be harmful both physically and psychologically.82 Policies and programs which isolate individuals rapidly degrade mental health, and have been associated with suicidality amongst juveniles in custody.83 The environment of violence cultivated by the DJJ, and the isolating polices and programs implemented in response, result in barriers to successful rehabilitation by cutting off meaningful access to rehabilitative services.
D. Sexual Abuse within the DJJ
As described earlier, physical structures of DJJ Facilities deny juveniles their basic privacy rights, increasing the risk of juveniles being exposed to sexual abuse. For example, youth in many of the DJJ living units are unable to shower, change their clothing, or use the toilet without being visible to staff members, visitors, or other juveniles.84 Juveniles described the experience of basic human activities such as showering and using the toilet as “dehumanizing.”85 Juveniles within DJJ are also subject to strip searches performed in open areas of DJJ facilities that are visible to other youth and staff.86 These policies and practices not only violate juvenile privacy rights but are also incredibly traumatic, dehumanizing, and increase the risk of physical and sexual abuse.87
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), was codified into federal law seeking to protect juvenile sexual rights by “preventing, detecting, and responding to sexual abuse” in correctional facilities, including DJJ facilities, through requiring the implementation of certain procedures.88 DJJ is subject to an inspection every three years by PREA auditors to ensure compliance. The released audit findings in 2017 exposed that certain DJJ facilities were in non-compliance with nearly half of the 40 applicable PREA standards.89
E. Mental and Physical Healthcare
In addition to preventing abuse and trauma, it is essential that juveniles receive adequate mental and physical healthcare services. DJJ Policies and Practices aims to provide comprehensive mental and physical healthcare including accommodations for juveniles with disabilities, specified needs, and any health-related services that may be necessary during commitment.90 Efforts to provide comprehensive mental and physical healthcare include: (i) assessing the juvenile’s mental and physical health needs during initial screening––which must be conducted by a registered nurse physician or nurse practitioner–––within seven days of a juvenile’s arrival at a DJJ facility and (ii) DJJ housing Juveniles in specialized living units intended to address their specific needs.91 For example, juveniles exhibiting higher risks of suicide are referred to a staff psychologist and may be placed under a Suicide Intervention, Suicide Watch, or Suicide Precaution status if necessary. 92
Despite DJJ’s aim to implement policies and practices providing comprehensive mental and physical healthcare, improper implementation creates barriers to receiving healthcare services and accommodations.93 For example, DJJ’s suicide prevention policies and programs require that suicidal juveniles to be placed in isolation within empty rooms which can be detrimental when struggling with mental health issues.94 Post-dismissal of the Farrell lawsuit, DJJ has observed an increase in suicidal tendencies among juveniles across DJJ facilities.95 From August 2017 to July 2018, ten juveniles across all DJJ facilities attempted suicide, compared to three from August 2015 to July 2016.96 During the period of July 2020 to June 2021, however, an average of 5 out of 100 juveniles confined within DJJ attempted suicide or were reported as being at high risk for suicide each month, which was a notable a reduction from 7 out of 100 juveniles each month the year prior.97 Confined juveniles are at a high risk for experiencing mental health emergencies due to the often-traumatic effects that come with confinement.98 These effects are compounded with any underlying mental health issues, which result in an increase in suicide attempts the deeper and more involved a juvenile becomes with the justice system.99
One explanation for DJJ’s inability to address the mental health needs of juveniles is that the DJJ dedicates much of its mental healthcare resources to the needs of the smaller high-risk juvenile population, disregarding the mental health needs of the larger low-risk population who could benefit from trauma-informed therapeutic services.100 Another explanation is that DJJ’s mental health units are not designed for long term treatment, requiring a quick transition to core units where juveniles receive less psychological support.101 The transition process disrupts juvenile treatment and exposes juveniles to DJJ’s violent environment.102 Furthermore, staff interviews with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice indicate that juveniles may be placed in mental health units due to factors such as staff preference rather than juvenile need.103
Further, a total of 1,338 juvenile injuries were reported by DJJ facilities during the June 2017 to June 2018 period, half of which were caused by other juveniles.104 During interviews with the Center on Juvenile Criminal Justice, juveniles described barriers to receiving healthcare including delays in seeing a nurse, dismissal of symptoms, and misdiagnosis resulting in permanent damage or injury.105 Sometimes juveniles from Chad and O.H. facilities require transportation over 300 miles to the Ventura facility for certain medical and dental services.106
By failing to implement proper policies and practices, which would better address the physical and mental health needs of juveniles, DJJ prevents meaningful access to rehabilitative services for lower risk juveniles and is unable to address the specific and relevant rehabilitative needs of all juveniles.
In addition to healthcare, educational services are crucial as educational attainment is an important indicator for rehabilitative success after release.107 While all DJJ facilities offer high school, vocational, and community college classes, DJJ’s educational policies and programs are inadequate as they do not equip juveniles for continued educational attainment or employment following their release.108 Test results from DJJ’s three high schools from each of DJJ’s three facilities show consistently low levels of academic achievement.109 In 2018, 8% of students at Chad, 3% of students at O.H., and 3% of students at Ventura scored proficient in reading.110 In 2018, no students at any DJJ facility scored proficient in math.111 Furthermore, homework is treated as a “joke” amongst juveniles, while staff display low expectations for students.112
A large percentage of DJJ’s juvenile population is entitled to special education services. In December 2017, 30% of high school students at DJJ were enrolled in special education.113 During interviews with the Center on Juvenile Criminal Justice, however, DJJ staff described instances of youth being denied accommodations required by their Individualized Education Plans and being asked to sign off on special education hours without receiving services.114 Additionally, interviews indicated students with Individualized Education Plans were being disciplined more often than those without, and that students receiving disability serviced were unfairly punished for behavior arising from their disability.115
The DJJ has trouble hiring and retaining skilled teachers, in part due to the remote location of DJJ facilities requiring staff to commute long distances.116 In interviews with the Center on Juvenile Criminal Justice, Staff explain that teachers are frequently absent, requiring the schools to rely on substitutes to cover a substantial share of the teaching load.117 Juveniles are also absent from school at relatively high rates. During the period of August 2017 to July 2018, juveniles at Chad and O.H. were absent at an average rate of 13%.118 During the period of July 2020 to June 2021, about one out of eight juveniles were absent from high school each day.119 It is unclear what accounts for these student absences, though they could be attributable to unit lockdowns or youths’ refusal to attend school.120
Across all four DJJ Facilities 53% of juveniles were considered high school graduates or GED recipients during August 2017 to July 2018 period.121 Once juveniles complete high school or pass the GED, they are allowed to participate in vocational education programs, enroll in community college, or accept a job in their respective facility.122 During the August 2017 to July 2018 period, DJJ’s graduate population averaged a 21% enrollment in community college programs, indicating lack of emphasis on continuing educational attainment.123 This lack of emphasis has persisted, as the total enrollment in high school, college, and career technical education as a percent of the DJJ’s average daily population; has decreased from 67% (July 2016-June 2017) to 55% (July 2020-June 2021).124 In 2017, 36 juveniles, 19 or older, were released from the DJJ without receiving a high school diploma or GED.125 Some juveniles are confined within DJJ until they are 23 or 25 years old, however, the number and quality of post-graduate educational offerings are insufficient to adequately be productive and prepare juveniles for life after release.126
Overall, the adequacy of education at the DJJ falls short because of high rates of violence, low attendance, lack of quality teachers and instruction, as well as frequent student turnover due to new admissions and releases.127 As a result, DJJ’s educational policies and programs create barriers to successful rehabilitation, fail to provide meaningful access to rehabilitative services, and do not address specific and relevant rehabilitative needs.
G. Maintaining Familial and Communal Connections
Maintaining familial and communal connections are just as necessary for rehabilitative success as adequate education, however, DJJ treats family visitation as an incentive not a necessity.128 During interviews with the Center on Juvenile Criminal Justice, almost all juveniles and their family members remarked on the challenges and limitations they faced when trying to stay connected.129 Juveniles indicated many of their peers did not maintain adequate familial connections, citing long distances, discriminatory practices, finances, and lack of familial relationships as major barriers.130 DJJ policy authorizes staff to cut visits short, providing staff opportunities to abuse their power.131 Some juveniles have experienced family members being turned away upon arrival, or even suspended from visiting for a period of time, for unclear reasons.132 In contrast to the visitation policy standards of all other adult prisons in California, the DJJ does not offer visiting hours on Christmas and Thanksgiving, amongst other holidays, which can be an exceptionally difficult time of the year for incarcerated juveniles and their families.133
The remote location of DJJ facilities also prevents meaningful familial and communal connections.134 In June 2018, the majority of youth at DJJ facilities were in placements over 100 miles from their home community, requiring that families commute over three hours round trip to visit by car.135 Families that rely on public transit, as many with low incomes in urban areas do, face even longer and costlier travel to the facilities.136 While DJJ offers its Family Councils as an opportunity for family engagement, most families cannot manage to participate in these monthly meetings due to the barriers described above.137 Juveniles confined at DJJ Facilities as well as their family members describe feeling constrained by the minimal opportunities for contact with their loved one during commitment.138 These policies and programs isolate juveniles from familial and communal support, causing damage which continues to impact juveniles upon reentry into the community as they struggle to acclimate to life after confinement.139 Ultimately creating barriers to rehabilitation that prevent DJJ from addressing the specific and relevant rehabilitative needs of all juveniles.
H. Reentry Planning
Despite DJJ’s Re-Entry Program including pre-release planning at intake, partnerships with community organizations, and the development of an Integrated Re-Entry Plans, both juveniles and their families express uncertainty regarding juveniles leaving DJJ and reentering their community.140 During interviews with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, parents and juveniles expressed a lack of substantive information and guidance found in the re-entry packet provided. “Coming home from DJJ, you have nothing. No reentry plan. Nothing. Yeah, my [Parole Agent] and my counselor made a little reentry plan on paper, but they’re not familiar with my geographic region… so what they put down is the bare minimum. [When] I came home, I was really on my own.”141
The lack of reentry support, following the isolation and trauma of confinement, leaves juveniles feeling fear, isolation, and anxiety as they acclimate to society outside DJJ’s walls.142 DJJ’s laissez-faire approach to reentry planning and lack of collaboration with juveniles and their families fails to provide juveniles with meaningful access to rehabilitative services, resulting in barriers to successful juvenile rehabilitation. The poor outcomes that youth face during reentry are evidenced by rates of high recidivism, low employment, and low educational attainment following release.143 Youth released from DJJ often struggle to secure employment, enroll in education, and maintain financial stability, which is exemplified by a survey of 14 counties.144 In June 2018, following their release from the DJJ, 61% of juveniles under the supervision of these 14 counties were neither employed nor enrolled in an educational program, while few received sufficient government support to meet their basic needs.145 The experiences and impact DJJ’s reentry policies and programs have on juveniles upon their return their communities jeopardize access to healthcare, housing, and financial stability, and other basic necessities for themselves and their families.146
I. DJJ’s Rehabilitative Success
Upon evaluation of the outcomes and experiences of juveniles receiving DJJ services, it is clear that DJJ has failed to accomplish the CAJJS’s rehabilitative goals. DJJ’s release cohort for the Fiscal Year of 2014-15, report not published until 2019, included 220 juveniles.147 The three-year conviction rate for these juveniles following release was 50.5%, the three-year arrest rate was 76.4%, and the three-year return to state custody rate was 28.6%.148 When examining overlapping metrics of rehabilitative success (exposure to violence, education, etc.), DJJ has failed to successfully rehabilitate juveniles in compounding ways. DJJ has failed to prevent juvenile exposure to violence, abuse, and trauma. Juveniles confined within DJJ do not receive services that adequately address their specific and relevant healthcare, educational, and other rehabilitative needs. DJJ has failed to promote collaboration between juveniles, staff, family, community members, and other parties involved in the rehabilitative process. DJJ fails to adequately prepare juveniles as well as family and community members for the juvenile’s reentry into the community. The DJJ fails to ensure educational and vocational attainment both during and after confinement. DJJ hiring practices do not focus on appropriate training as well as building positive trusting relationships between staff and juveniles. DJJ policies and programs fail to provide adequate oversight and accountability for these failures. DJJ’s compounding failures, illuminates the successful rehabilitative characteristics that are absent from DJJ’s rehabilitative policies and programs. DJJ policies and programs fail to embody three necessary characteristics: (1) removing barriers to rehabilitation, (2) providing meaningful access to rehabilitative services, and (3) addressing specific relevant juvenile needs at all levels. County governments must learn from DJJ’s shortcomings by implementing policies and programs embodying the characteristics of rehabilitative success lacking from the DJJ.
IV. Embodying Characteristics of Rehabilitative Success
A. Characteristics of Successful Rehabilitative Policies and Programs
The efficacy of rehabilitative policies and programs upon implementation is limited by how effectively policies and programs are delivered without hindrance from compounding barriers to rehabilitation. Successful delivery of juvenile rehabilitative services by county governments requires the implementation of policies and programs which embody three characteristics: (1) removing barriers to rehabilitation, (2) providing meaningful access to rehabilitative services, and (3) addressing specific and relevant juvenile needs at all levels. The necessity for the embodiment of these characteristics is found by considering aforementioned interconnected metrics of rehabilitative success through an evaluation of policies and programs: (i) implemented by DJJ (see “DJJ Policies and Programs” section), (ii) already implemented by county governments, (iii) recommended by experts.149 Policies and programs which embody these characteristics result in impacts and outcomes for juveniles that are more likely to lead successful rehabilitation.
In order to implement policies and programs embodying these rehabilitative characteristics, county governments should pursue overlapping objectives. Similar to how overlapping metrics of success (exposure to violence, education, and successful reentry, etc.) must be evaluated in tandem, the pursuit of objectives to embody characteristics of success must be done simultaneously. Based on the interconnected metrics of rehabilitative success, evaluation of DJJ’s Policies and Practices detailed above, and preexisting policies and programs of county governments, county governments must pursue the following overlapping objectives: (1) promoting collaboration, (2) maintaining communal and familial connections, (3) providing appropriate intervention and limiting contact with the CAJJS, (4) preparing juveniles for successful reentry, (5) focusing on specific and relevant rehabilitative needs, (6) ensuring educational attainment and progress, (7) providing holistic healthcare, (8) hiring appropriately trained staff, with a focus on building positive relationships with juveniles, (9) ensuring appropriate oversight and accountability, and (10) preventing violence, trauma, and abuse. The need to pursue these objectives is determined by considering aforementioned interconnected metrics of rehabilitative success and an evaluation of policies and practices: (i) implemented by DJJ (see “DJJ Policies and Programs” section), (ii) already implemented by county governments, (iii) and recommended by experts.150
B. Discussion and examples of Objectives which Lead to Rehabilitative Success
The following subsections discuss how the pursuit of the aforementioned objectives leads to the embodiment of characteristics of rehabilitative success in greater detail; providing examples and recommendations regarding what the pursuit of these objectives requires.
i. Promoting Collaboration
County governments must actively promote collaboration between and within all parties involved in the CAJJS: including juveniles, staff, members of a juvenile’s family and community, as well as the county governments themselves. By promoting collaboration between and within all parties, county governments ensure that all parties involved are assisting in ensuring Policies and Practices embody the characteristics of successful rehabilitation.
An example of promoting collaboration within parties can be seen through promoting intra-staff collaboration, requiring that healthcare professionals work directly with custodial and non-clinical staff when providing treatment to juveniles.151 Custodial and non-clinical staff have more opportunity to observe the healthcare as well as behavioral needs of juveniles throughout the day.152 By sharing their insight and observations with healthcare professionals, the collaboration between custodial and non-clinical staff plays a crucial role in providing juveniles with specific and relevant rehabilitative services.153
Similar to the necessity of collaboration within parties, there must also be collaboration between distinctly separate parties. An example of promoting collaboration between parties can be seen through collaboration between different counties. Chief Katherine Weinstein Miller, Chief Probation Officer for San Francisco’s Juvenile Probation Department, suggests county governments implement Policies and Practices that encourage such collaboration.154 Chief Miller’s suggestion would require that county governments “combine forces” in order to create a statewide network for providing small-scale, local rehabilitative services, provided by county governments for county governments.155 Such rehabilitative services would ensure juveniles in different counties have equal access to the same rehabilitative services which would eliminate potential disparities of accessible resources.156
By promoting such holistic collaboration, county governments would be better situated for eliminating barriers to successful rehabilitation, providing meaningful access to rehabilitative services, and addressing specific and relevant rehabilitative needs.
ii. Maintaining Familial and Communal Connections
County governments must ensure that juveniles maintain stable and consistent communal and familial connections as opportunities for juveniles to meaningfully engage with family members are vital to their well-being while confined and their success upon reentering their community. Policies and programs focusing on community-centric approaches, such as community-based organizations, tend to lead to more successful rehabilitative programs and juvenile reentry into their communities.157 General rehabilitation treatments based in a residential and community settings, for example, reduce recidivism rates from 10% to 38%.158 Geographic placement of rehabilitative facilities are extremely important in creating these opportunities to build meaningful familial connections as it is important that juveniles remain close to home to the greatest extent possible to successfully maintain communal and familial connections.159 Juveniles do not need to be placed in the exact community they are from, however, it is imperative that juveniles are placed close enough to their community for community and family members to have regular access.160 Juveniles also do not need to maintain familial and community connections with every possible member, but they must have at least one stable and consistent connection with one adult from their family or community.161 By providing family and community members with easy access and communication with juveniles, barriers rehabilitation are removed and juveniles are provided with meaningful access to rehabilitative services.
iii. Providing Appropriate Intervention and Limiting Contact with the CAJJS
County governments must provide appropriate intervention and limit juvenile contact with the CAJJS. This objective, similar to others, requires county governments to invest in both higher and lower-level criminogenic needs.162 By utilizing lower-level intervention services instead of relying on only higher-level services, county governments provide appropriate and relevant intervention services which minimizes escalation and limits contact with the CAJJS as well as limiting the time a juvenile spends in custody.163 Both limiting contact and confinement duration are crucial for eliminating barriers to successful rehabilitation, as more contact and longer confinement duration increases the likelihood of recidivism.164
Santa Clara County Probation Department’s (SCCPD) provides a successful staggered intervention model for ranging levels of need.165 SCCPD provides Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) services at two intervention levels, for low level and early offenders, diverting juveniles from the justice system through supportive activities and services.166 In 2018, 3.3% of juveniles who received PEI services recidivated, a total of 19 juveniles.167 SCCPD also provides higher level services, called the “intervention level”, for juveniles who are wards of the court, home on probation, or are on deferred entry of judgment.168 At this intervention level, juveniles are referred to a variety of services; including Support and Enhancement Services (SES), Court Appointed Friends and Advocates (CAFA) Pro-Social Services.169 In 2018, the combined recidivism rate across CAFA and SES (171 juveniles total) was fifteen percent.170 Disparities among recidivism rates exist amongst juveniles that completed their respective services and those that did not.171 SCCPD’s “intensive intervention level” includes youth who are post-adjudicated and have more criminogenic needs or have had more involvement in the CAJJS.172 One, of multiple, services at the Intensive Intervention level is SCCPD’s Probation Gang Resistance and Intervention Program (Pro-GRIP), which provides intensive case management services to gang-involved offenders between the ages of 14 and 21 throughout Santa Clara County.173 In 2018, Pro-GRIP’s recidivism rate was 22%, or 10 out of 45 juveniles.174 These programs are examples of how county governments can provide meaningful access to rehabilitative services at all levels, while simultaneously addressing specific and relevant rehabilitative needs.
iv. Preparing for Reentry
County governments must ensure juveniles as well as their families and communities are prepared for the juvenile’s reentry into their community to the greatest extent possible. Reentry preparation should begin as early as possible, rather than near a juvenile’s release.175 The process for juvenile reentry preparation must include support systems such as family engagement, employment or educational preparation, and continued community engagement.176 Without substantial reentry planning or coordination, juveniles experience higher rates of recidivism, unemployment, lack of involvement in education, and barriers to adequate living conditions.177 The lack of collaboration between the DJJ and local probation departments, for example, contributes to these poor outcomes, illustrating why these objectives must be pursued in tandem.178 While in confinement, reentry preparation should give juveniles a sense of personal agency and ensure that they have developed skills to succeed upon reentry with services provided services throughout a juvenile’s transition back into their community. SCCPD provides a model for reentry preparation services that follows the policy and program guidelines mentioned above. SCCPD’s re-entry services are designed to assist juveniles in preparing to transition back into their family home and local communities, taking place over two-phases.179 First, juveniles undergo a six to eight month in-custody preparation period.180 Second, juveniles undergo a ten-week period of aftercare within the community.181 During this second phase, a re-entry Probation Officer provides the youth with linkages to necessary services and engages the youth in team meetings to identify and address challenges the youth may be experiencing in the community.182 In 2018, SCCPD’s re-entry services resulted in a recidivism rate of about 25%, which includes both juveniles who completed and did not complete the re-entry services.183 A total of 88% of juveniles who completed SCCPD’s re-entry services did not recidivate.184 Such extensive re-entry planning removes barriers to successful rehabilitation by providing meaningful access to rehabilitative services at all levels.
v. Focusing on Relevant and Specific Rehabilitative Needs
County governments must implement policies and programs which focus on a juvenile’s specific and relevant criminogenic, behavioral, and medical needs. More specifically, county governments must align a juvenile’s specific risk of recidivism and rehabilitative needs with rehabilitative services relevant to the needs, otherwise, the risk of recidivism is increased.185 Addressing a juvenile’s specific rehabilitative needs requires a continuum of appropriate services at all levels and at all stages of the correctional process; as youth prisons programs tend to be more successful when addressing risk factors associated with specific criminal behavior, including anger, anti-social behavior, lack of self-control, lack of affection or weak supervision from parents, and substance abuse.186 When addressing relevant rehabilitative needs, policies and programs should address barriers a juvenile faces as an individual and community member.187 For example, a twelve-week unpaid training program may not be a realistic option for individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.188 By focusing on the specific and relevant rehabilitative needs and risks of individual juveniles, county governments can implement policies and programs providing meaningful access to rehabilitative services and addressing specific and relevant rehabilitative needs, thus removing barriers to rehabilitation.
vi. Ensuring Educational Attainment and Progress
County governments must ensure that juveniles are obtaining adequate educational attainment as part of their rehabilitative services because a juvenile’s educational attainment is a key predictor of rehabilitative success.189 Policies and programs providing educational attainment services must focus on academic progress, vocational training, and life-skill development. Many committed juveniles are still of school-age, making academic progress central to their rehabilitation; as seen with the DJJ, however, most juveniles do not experience academic success while confined. One solution is to keep a juvenile’s education attached to their home school district while confined instead of removing them into a school run by a correctional facility.190 This model would require educational services to be administered by a juvenile’s home school district in collaboration with the correctional facility, making school districts accountable and responsible for ensuring continued educational attainment. This model would ensure stability of educational programming by providing a greater understanding of a juvenile’s specific educational needs, including Individualized Education Plans for disabled students as well as ways to mitigate credit deficiencies, thereby eliminating educational barriers to rehabilitative success.191
Another barrier to a juvenile’s educational attainment, however, is continuation past their K-12 education. Many committed in the CAJJS are over 18 and while they have finished their K-12 education, county governments implement policies and programs providing these juveniles opportunities to acquire a college education or vocational training. In addition, a juvenile’s educational attainment should include life-skill development. SCCPD provides examples of such services. SCCPD Law and Leadership programs provide legal education services, life skills training, and opportunities to participate in community service-learning projects.192 SCCPD’s Health Education Associate services provide workshops relating to healthy teenage relationships, identifying teen dating violence trends, developing action plans to address issues such as cyberbullying, and providing technical assistance for a dating abuse prevention program.193 SCCPD’s Competency Development Services further develop a juveniles life-skills by providing early intervention juveniles and their families individual counseling, family counseling, youth empowerment skills training (YESP) and parent classes (STEP).194 Additionally “justice-involved” juveniles can receive mentoring services for a minimum of one year through SCCPD’s Bright Pathways Mentoring (BPM).195
vii. Providing Holistic Healthcare
County governments must ensure that juveniles are provided with holistic healthcare, meaning both mental and physical health services, which are critical to the overall health of juveniles. Inadequate healthcare services act as a barrier to rehabilitative success, requiring the policies and programs which implement supervision and accountability metrics to ensure that proper healthcare services are received.196 Adequate supervision and accountability metrics should include keeping an extensive record of a juvenile’s specific and relevant needs and what services have been provided. Furthermore, these metrics should measure if a juvenile’s physical and mental healthcare needs are being fully diagnosed and treated. Specific and relevant healthcare services may require that such services are administered in appropriate settings.197 Assistance from third-party providers may be beneficial, however, accessible onsite healthcare services are crucial.198 Inadequate healthcare services may create barriers preventing meaningful access to other rehabilitative services, resulting in an inability to address specific and relevant rehabilitative needs.
viii. Hiring Appropriately Trained Staff with an Emphasis on Building Positive Relationships
When hiring staff, county governments should ensure staff have adequate training and are committed to actively building positive and trusting relationships with juveniles. Positive social interactions with adults who model healthy and functional lifestyles can help a young person feel respected and supported as they develop their own identity and social skills.199 Positive social interactions also play a key role in ensuring that juveniles feel nurtured and protected.200 In line with building positive relationships with juveniles, staff should reflect the lived experience of juveniles racially, ethnically, economically, and geographically.201 One such model for building such positive relationships is having staff act as “Credible Messengers,” people who juveniles can relate to and know from their community, ultimately building a trusting as well as positive relationship.202
While commitment to building positive relationships is important, hiring properly trained staff is equally necessary. Great importance should be placed on experience working with juveniles and the ability to build positive relationships with offending juveniles.203 Appropriate staff training requires training on various issues such as implicit bias, trauma, and adolescent development.204 It is recommended that staff responsible for administering rehabilitative Policies and Practices must have at least forty hours of training before performing any duties of employment, and that such training continues throughout employment.205 Such training should extend to all staff involved in implementing Policies and Practices, from guards to the heads of facilities.
ix. Ensuring Adequate Oversight and Accountability
County governments must be sufficiently subject to oversight and be held accountable for the rehabilitative success of juveniles. Sufficient oversight of county governments requires that independent bodies ensure that rehabilitative policies and programs are subject to evidence-based evaluations. Evidence-based evaluations require direct evaluation of rehabilitative effectiveness to determine the actual experience of juveniles receiving services and if the outcomes indicate sufficient success to justify its continuation.206 Sufficient oversight of county governments also requires internal accountability, such as the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy for abuse and enforcement by internal watchdogs. Internal watchdogs must be responsible for conducting prompt investigations and enforcing immediate suspensions when violations of policy occur.207
The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice outlined a model for ensuring sufficient oversight and accountability in DJJ facilities, which should be adopted at the county level in some form. The model recommends short-term reforms to boost juvenile safety and rehabilitative accountability.208 First, the creation of a state body to oversee prisons and youth correctional institutions to ensure consistent system wide accountability.209 Second, California convenes an independent body of experts tasked with reporting on the experiences and outcomes of juveniles confined within CAJJS facilities.210 Third, policy changes that make data reporting regarding bodies responsible for implementing juvenile policies and programs a matter of state law.211 In the long-term, the model recommends that states prioritize justice reinvestment in order to reduce correctional spending and shift spending into effective community programs.212 Moving investments further upstream and into the community can address youths’ underlying needs while limiting harm caused by exposure to the justice system at a young age.213
x. Preventing Exposure to Violence, Trauma, and Abuse
County governments must ensure that policies and programs are implemented which prevent juvenile exposure to violence, trauma, and abuse as it can create barriers to successful rehabilitation. Preventing exposure to violence, trauma and abuse is done by ensuring that juveniles are not subjected to an environment of violence. An environment of violence is best prevented by ensuring juveniles are not exposed to frequent instances of “abuse, threats of violence, bullying, theft, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and assault.”214 The design of correctional facilities is significant to prevent environments of violence from being created. The American Correctional Association (ACA) recommends that juvenile facilities house no more than 150 total juveniles total with housing units containing no more than 25 youth since smaller facilities with fewer juveniles encounter lower rates of violence and more effective delivery of rehabilitative services.215 Alternatively, large prison-like facilities such as the DJJ, create an environment of violence and expose juveniles to abuse as well as trauma.216
Preventing sexual abuse requires specialized oversight and policies and programs ensuring that, at a minimum, county governments are in compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). PREA standards are set by the federal government for the detection, prevention, and response to sexual abuse.217 County governments must implement procedures providing adequate investigation into allegations of sexual abuse, in accordance with PREA and other relevant standards,218 including the implementation of policies and programs in which internal watchdogs provide maximum oversight and accountability with compliance of PREA and other relevant standards.
C. Issue of Justice by Geography
Just as the pursuit of the aforementioned objectives lead to the embodiment of characteristics of rehabilitative success, the pursuit of the same objectives resolves logistical issues arising from the transfer of responsibilities from DJJ to county governments. One such logistical issue the CAJJS may face as county governments take over DJJ responsibilities is the issue of Justice by Geography. Justice by Geography occurs when juveniles receive disparate sentencing and accessibility to rehabilitative services because of their geographic locations.219 In this case, it would occur either by county governments transferring and sentencing juveniles to the adult system, as allowed by the new legislation, or by county governments simply not having the resources to provide adequate rehabilitative policies and programs for juveniles within the county.220
While this is a legitimate concern, county governments are able to resolve issues related to Justice by Geography through the simultaneous pursuit of the objectives above. Specifically promoting collaboration, providing appropriate intervention, limiting contact with the CAJJS, and ensuring appropriate oversight and accountability. Promoting collaboration would resolve issues of Justice by Geography, as it would foster the sharing of resources between county governments. As discussed above, a statewide network for rehabilitative services would allow counties with excess resources or less needs to assist counties with insufficient resources or more needs to successfully implement rehabilitative Policies and Practices.221 Providing appropriate intervention and limiting contact with the CAJJS would resolve the issue of Justice by Geography by lessening the burden on county governments because appropriate low level intervention and limited contact with the CAJJS means county governments are able to expend less resources on implementing high level rehabilitative policies and programs. Ensuring appropriate oversight and accountability would resolve the issue of Justice by Geography by evaluating barriers specific county governments face in implementing policies and programs with successful characteristics, such as lack of existing infrastructure, lack of funding, or lack of adequate staffing. Ensuring appropriate oversight and accountability, however, requires continuous guaranteed access to resources needed by county governments. Pursuing these objectives, in tandem with the seven other objectives listed above, county governments will avoid placing juveniles in the adult system and will be provided with adequate resources. Thus, the potential issue of Justice by Geography will be resolved.
Under California law, the ultimate goal of the CAJJS is to rehabilitate offending juveniles. Historically, the responsibility for accomplishing these rehabilitative goals has been split between DJJ and county governments. In 2021, the California Legislature enacted legislation to close the DJJ facilities permanently by 2023, which began the process of shifting DJJ’s rehabilitative responsibilities in the CAJJS to county governments.222 Upon examination of policies and programs implemented by the DJJ, DJJ’s shortcomings were not caused by a lack of a specific program or guiding principles. Rather, DJJ’s failure stems from a lack of characteristics necessary for rehabilitative success.
For policies and programs to have rehabilitative success, they must embody three characteristics: (1) removing barriers to rehabilitation, (2) providing meaningful access to rehabilitative services, and (3) addressing specific and relevant juvenile needs at all levels. In order to embody these characteristics, however, policies and programs must pursue certain overlapping objectives. Including (1) Promoting collaboration, (2) Maintaining communal and familial connections, (3) Providing appropriate intervention and limiting contact with the CAJJS, (4) Preparing juveniles for successful reentry, (5) Focusing on specific rehabilitative needs, (6) ensure educational attainment and progress, (7) Providing holistic healthcare, (8) Hiring appropriately trained staff, with a focus on building trust between juveniles, (9) Ensuring appropriate oversight and accountability, and (10) Preventing violence, trauma, and abuse.
Embodying these characteristics of rehabilitative success will lead to the CAJJS to accomplishing its ultimate goal by: (1) providing adequate care, treatment, and guidance to offending youth and (2) ensuring the protection and safety of the public. The successful rehabilitation of youth is one of the most crucial focuses of any Juvenile Justice System as youth are the future of our society and must be protected by the systems and institutions impacting them. Furthermore, the manner in which our youth are impacted by the systems and institutions imposed on them, is a reflection of our society.
1 In re Charles G., 115 Cal. App. 4th 608, 614 (2004).
2 Conclusion based on author’s research and experience in the Juvenile Justice System, discussed in subsequent sections.
3 Maureen Washburn & Renee Menart, Unmet Promises: Continued Violence & Neglect in California’s Division of Juvenile Justice, Ctr. on Juv. and Crim. Just., 9 (2019), http://www.cjcj.org/uploads/cjcj/documents/unmet_promises_continued_violence_and_neglect_in_california_division_of_juvenile_justice.pdf.
5 Consent Decree, Farrell v. Allen, No. RG 03079344 (Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda Cnty. July 28, 2004), available at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/juvenile_justice/docs/ConsentDecree.pdf (hereinafter Consent Decree).
7 Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 736.5.
8 Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code, supra note 7.
9 Other metrics for rehabilitative success overlap and influence each other, making the isolation of one metric inadequate for thorough evaluation. This concept is discussed in greater detail in the subsequent “Metrics for Rehabilitative Success” section.
10 Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Farrell Lawsuit Timeline, Ctr. on Juv. and Crim. Just. 1-21 (2015), https://www.cjcj.org/media/import/documents/farrell_litigation_timeline.pdf.
11 Id. at 1-6.
12 Consent Decree, supra note 5.
13 Farrell Lawsuit Timeline, supra note 10, at 3-18.
14 S.B. 81, 2007-2008 Leg. (Cal. 2007).
15 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 7.
17 Farrell Lawsuit Timeline, supra note 10, at 1-21.
18 Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code, supra note 7.
20 In re Charles G., supra note 1, at 614.
21 In re N.D., 167 Cal. App. 4th 885, 894 (2008).
22 Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code, supra note 7, at § 202.
25 See id. § 1710.
28 See id. § 736.5.
31 Mark R. Fondacaro, Rethinking the Scientific and Legal Implications of Developmental Differences Research in Juvenile Justice, 17 New Crim. L. Rev. 407, 407-12 (2014).
32 Id. at 424-26.
33 Id. at 407-15.
34 Gabriel Petek, The 2019-20 Budget: Reorganization of the Division of Juvenile Justice, Legislative Analyst’s Office, 2-3 (2019), https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2019/3998/juvenile-justice-041019.pdf.
35 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 10-11.
36 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Recidivism Report for Youth Released From the Division of Juvenile Justice in Fiscal Year 2014-15, Division of Correctional Policy Research and Internal Oversight, 5 (2019), https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/research/wp-content/uploads/sites/174/2019/12/Recidivism-Report-for-Youth-Released-from-the-Division-of-Juvenile-Justice-in-FY-2014-15.pdf.
37 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 13-14.
39 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, supra note 36, at 10.
40 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 15.
41 Id. at 16.
42 Matthew Razo, Fair and Firm Sentencing for California’s Youth: Rethinking Penal Code Section 190.5, 41 W. St. U. L. Rev. 429, 431-32 (2014).
43 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 16.
44 Id. at 15.
45 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 16.
46 Id. at 17-18.
47 Julian D. Ford Et Al., Trauma Among Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: Critical Issues and New Directions, Nat’l Ctr. for Mental Health and Juv. Just. 2 (2007), https://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/BTB25-1G-02.pdf.
49 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 19.
53 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 19.
54 Id. at 22.
58 Id. at 23.
59 Celeste Fremon, DJJ Watch: Violence, Neglect & Fear Makes Kids Worse Not Better At California’s Division Of Juvenile Justice, Says Scathing New Report, WitnessLA, (Feb. 19, 2019), https://witnessla.com/violence-neglect-a-punitive-atmosphere-makes-kids-worse-not-better-at-californias-division-of-juvenile-justice-says-scathing-new-report/.
61 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 23.
62 Id. at 24.
64 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 25.
66 Id. at 26-28.
67 Id. at 26.
69 Maureen Washburn Et Al., ON THE BRINK: Conditions in California’s Division of Juvenile Justice Remain Bleak as Closure Nears, Ctr. on Juv. and Crim. Just., 7 (2021), https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED622346.pdf.
70 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 26-28.
71 Id.at 38.
72 Id. at 42.
73 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 42.
74 Id. at 26-28.
75 Id. at 28.
77 Id. at 33.
78 Id. at 29.
82 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 34.
84 Id. at 36.
89 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 36.
90 Id. at 51.
92 Id. at 55.
93 Id. at 51.
94 Id. at 55.
95 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 55.
97 Washburn Et Al., supra note 72, at 9.
100 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 55.
101 Id. at 49.
104 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 51.
105 Id. at 53.
106 Id. at 54.
107 Id. at 63.
111 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 63.
112 Id. at 63-64
113 Id. at 64.
116 Id. at 66.
119 Washburn Et Al., supra note 72, at 10.
120 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 66.
124 Washburn Et Al., supra note 72, at 11.
125 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 67.
127 Washburn Et Al., supra note 72, at 11.
128 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 68-70.
129 Id. at 68.
131 Id. at 68-70.
133 Id. at 70.
134 Id. at 72.
135 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 72.
137 Id. at 74.
140 Id. at 75.
141 Washburn Et Al., supra note 72, at 13.
142 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 77-78.
143 Id. at 80.
144 Id. at 81.
147 California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, supra note 36, at 7.
149 Recommendation based on author’s research and experience in the Juvenile Justice System.
150 Recommendation based on author’s research and experience in the Juvenile Justice System.
151 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 25.
154 Zoom Video Interview with Katherine Weinstein Miller, Chief Probation Officer, San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department, in S.F., Cal. (Sept. 24, 2021).
157 Mark W. Lipsey & Francis T. Cullen, The Effectiveness of Correctional Rehabilitation: A Review of Systematic Reviews, 3 Ann. Rev. L. & Soc. Sci. 297, 303-05 (2007).
159 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 72-74.
160 Zoom Video Interview with Jyoti Nanda, Associate Professor of Law, Golden Gate University School of Law, in S.F., Cal. (Oct. 1, 2021).
162 Interview with Katherine Weinstein Miller, supra note 161.
165 Research and Development County of Santa Clara Probation Department, Annual Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) and Youthful Offender Block Grant (YOBG) 18-20, (2019), https://www.bscc.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/Santa-Clara-2019-JJCP-YOBG-Report.pdf.
167 Id. at 20.
168 Id. at 22.
170 Research and Development County of Santa Clara Probation Department, supra note 172, at 22, 30.
171 Id. at 31.
172 Id. at 32.
173 Id. at 33.
174 Id. at 35.
175 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 75.
177 Id. at 80.
178 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 78-80.
179 Research and Development County of Santa Clara Probation Department, supra note 172, at 37.
183 Id. at 39.
185 Interview with Katherine Weinstein Miller, supra note 161.
189 Washburn & Menart., supra note 3, at 63.
190 Interview with Jyoti Nanda, supra note 167.
192 Research and Development County of Santa Clara Probation Department, supra note 172, at 12.
193 Id. at 13.
194 Research and Development County of Santa Clara Probation Department, supra note 172, at 16.
195 Id. at 17.
196 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 81.
197 Id. at 54.
199 Interview with Katherine Weinstein Miller, supra note 161.
203 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 21-23.
206 Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/model-programs-guide/about-mpg (last visited July, 21, 2022).
207 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 84-86.
208 Maureen Washburn & Renee Menart, A BLUEPRINT FOR REFORM: Moving Beyond California’s Failed Youth Correctional System, Ctr. on Juv. and Crim. Just., 8-9 (2020), https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED607012.pdf.
209 Id. at 8.
210 Id. at 9.
212 Washburn & Menart, supra note 216, at 11-12.
213 Id. at 12.
214 Washburn & Menart, supra note 3, at 43.
215 Id. at 15.
216 Id. at 18.
217 Id. at 85.
219 Interview with Katherine Weinstein Miller, supra note 161.
222 Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code, supra note 7, at § 736.5.
*Landing image by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash.