California’s young people need care, not cages.
That call to action has become the drumbeat of a powerful movement of advocates working across California to push us to think bigger – and act boldly – to improve the health and wellbeing of our state’s biggest assets: our young people.
A central theme and focus of this movement has been to encourage California to shift its orientation from punishment to prevention in terms of how we treat young people who have been impacted by the justice system.
Last year, California passed the Youth Reinvestment Fund, the first-ever state fund specifically dedicated to keeping young people out of the justice system and in the care of community-based organizations that are best able to provide guidance and support.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed moving the Division of Juvenile Justice from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to Health and Human Services, signaling the need to address trauma and encourage rehabilitation.
Advocates and organizers are also fighting for, and winning, changes at the local level. San Francisco is poised to shut down its juvenile hall by 2021. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors recently voted to allocate tens of millions in additional dollars to fund community-based youth development services in Los Angeles.
We applaud this progress. We can advance this long overdue policy shift by ensuring that our state’s budget, now and in the long term, reflects our values and invests in the services youth need to thrive.
Read entire opinion article by Chet P. Hewitt is president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation. Shane Murphy Goldsmith is president and CEO of the Liberty Hill Foundation. Both are members of the California Funders for Boys and Men of Color.