Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Closing Juvenile Hall in San Francisco

San Francisco juvenile hall
Youth incarceration is a significant topic of discussion in California from one end of the state to the other. The question of how to best serve young people who struggle is one that many individuals are trying to answer. A primary goal is to keep children out of detention centers and in the classroom. 

Across the United States, youth crime rates are falling. Last week, we discussed some of the reasons behind the unprecedented drop in serious crime committed by minors. After the San Francisco Chronicle published a report bringing the trend to light, lawmakers in Northern California are taking action.

In response to The Chronicle’s reporting, three San Francisco supervisors are aiming for the juvenile hall in the city, the S.F. Chronicle reports. Hillary Ronen, Shamann Walton, and Matt Haney are drafting legislation that would close the city’s detention center and all but end the practice of jailing youths. If the lawmaker's efforts prove successful, it will make San Francisco the only city in California without a juvenile hall.

Meredith Desautels, a staff attorney the Youth Law Center, tells The Chronicle the proposed move is in line with current research. Studies show that incarceration is harmful to young people. She said that closing juvenile hall “would provide the shock to the system that we need to change our thinking about how to approach youth who have gotten into trouble.”

San Francisco’s juvenile hall has 150 beds, according to the article. However, usually fewer than 50 youths are held inside at one time. The money spent on keeping the center open and housing youths could better be spent on innovative programs instead. Last year, the annual cost of housing a child reached $266,000.

“We’re done with jailing kids,” said Supervisor Ronen.

Meanwhile, In Los Angeles


While SF Supervisors have their sights on closing juvenile hall, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have questions about unspent state funding intended to reduce juvenile delinquency, KNBC reports. Some $79 million sits in reserve, while valuable programs lack operating funds, says Supervisor Janice Hahn.

"It is unacceptable that nonprofits dedicated to supporting youth are underfunded while millions of dollars meant for them are going unused," said Hahn. "We need immediate clarity on these funds and a plan to get them out into the community as quickly as possible." 

A motion was put forth – co-authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas – to expedite a scheduled audit of the problem, according to the article. Supervisor Hahn also points out that the Probation Department's budget doesn’t show signs of making the necessary moves toward prevention and community-based interventions.

It seems that the Probation Department is at odds with the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC) which oversees state funding. The latter has a plan to dedicate more resources toward county services to community-based organizations, the article reports. The former’s budget plan does not match the JJCC’s.

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:


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Southern California Juvenile Law Attorney


At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we specialize in juvenile defense. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Walsh has a unique set of skills that she can utilize when advocating for your family. If your son or daughter is charged with a crime or is facing a school expulsion hearing, we can help your family achieve the best possible outcome. Please contact us today. (714) 619-9355

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