November 12, 2011: "...counties were grateful that Proposition 30 locked in several billion dollars annually to pay for housing inmates and watching parolees previously overseen by the state, as well as a host of social service responsibilities." -- As the Sacramento Bee's Kevin Yamamura reports this morning, Proposition 30, the Governor's tax increase to benefit public education, has funding streams that reach out to other budget-starved state social service needs.
Or, as the long form on the ballot told us, Proposition 30 "Guarantees funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments."
One of those services is what Brian Goldstein, in a post in Juvenile Justice Information Exchange in April 2012 called "an ambitious and deep-rooted reform of [California's] corrections system...known as realignment"...
Full juvenile realignment is a historic opportunity to end a failed system, while addressing county-level discrepancies in sentencing and services. California’s 58 counties already manage much of the juvenile system, including total responsibility for supervising probation.
Amid growing acceptance, the conversation around juvenile justice realignment in California stands to enter a new phase. In addition to Gov. Brown, Department of Finance, Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), Little Hoover Commission, and various stakeholders are now publicly calling for empowering counties to assume full responsibility for serving their youthful offenders.
Sacramento understands the exorbitant costs for maintaining a dual juvenile justice system, both in fiscal terms and as detrimental to effective rehabilitation. Per a recent report from the LAO, the state-run Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF) spent $179,000 per youth for 2011-2012. Yet this spending does not temper the widespread culture of violence in the facilities, nor does it treat and educate our youth. As such, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) recently found an 80% re-arrest rate within three years of a youth’s release. DJF facilities remain in a condition of continued disrepair. Nevertheless, California is legally bound to spend enormous sums for their replacement and upkeep, as a result of an ongoing lawsuit....
Law-enforcement associations who oppose phased juvenile realignment, likewise resist implementation of “budget triggers” that require counties to pay for each of their youths in state facilities. Such discussion occurs amid a backdrop of deep financial strain for the state. A failure to reform perpetuates this system of disproportionate sacrifice. Why should juvenile justice enjoy exemption from “budget triggers,” while the state cuts funding to schools, universities, mental health professionals, and child-care providers? If the state fails to enforce financial obligations for youth corrections, then more cuts on education and social services will be necessary to plug these gaps.