CJJRP Press Release

May 21, 2007

California Juvenile Reentry Partnership Aims To Improve Outcomes For Youth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 21, 2007
Contact: Laurie Kappe
i.e. communications, LLC
(415) 616-3930

Privately funded $780,000 initiative for policy and practice reform

San Francisco (CA) – The California Juvenile Justice Reentry Partnership (CJJRP), a collaborative effort to improve outcomes for youth released from juvenile justice facilities, was formally announced today. The Partnership includes some of the most highly regarded advocacy, legal and research organizations in the juvenile justice field– Commonweal, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ), National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), and Youth Law Center (YLC). Haigh-Scatena Foundation is providing $780,000 to fund the initiative, the final grant of the foundation’s 40 year history in promoting social change strategies for disadvantaged children, youth and families.

“Most kids released from confinement fall into a void back home,” said David Steinhart, director of Commonweal’s Juvenile Justice Program. “Schools don’t want them, families can’t control them, and probation officers can’t offer much help. The juvenile justice system is not doing its job at this critical stage. Our partnership will promote a restructuring of aftercare for these high risk and often vulnerable youth.”

While juvenile crime rates in California remain at historic lows, youth returning home from confinement in state and local facilities have high recidivism (re-arrest) rates. According to the state Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), 70 percent of youth paroled from its institutions are rearrested within two years, many for serious crimes. DJJ also documents extremely high rates of mental health disorders (approximately 70%) and substance abuse histories (exceeding 80%) for its release populations.

“When youth exit the system, most return to the environments where they first got in trouble,” said Dan Macallair, executive director of CJCJ. “Aftercare has been an afterthought and without proper pre-release planning and services, youth leaving the system are at very, very high risk of re-offending.”

While the vast majority of youth in both the state and county systems are male, females are a growing percentage and make up 16% of youth released from county probation supervision and 6% of youth released from state facilities. “It is imperative that we address the specific needs of girls in the juvenile system, which to date have been largely ignored,” said Barry Krisberg, president of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Currently in California, about 130,000 youth are released annually from state and county juvenile justice facilities. “Connecting these youth with their families, faith leaders and resources both before and after they leave the system will help make this profound transition more successful,” said Carole Shauffer, executive director of YLC. “There is hope that we can stop this revolving door back into the system.”

The Haigh-Scatena Foundation is a private grantmaker based in Davis, CA. Improving California’s juvenile justice system has been a central focus for almost forty years. “We have learned that achieving social change requires leadership, expertise, and cooperation. We get all three with this grant,” said Ron Clement, CEO of the Foundation.

Commonweal is a nonprofit health and environmental research and policy organization headquartered in Bolinas, California. The Commonweal Juvenile Justice Program has been a leading voice for innovation and change in California’s juvenile justice system since 1980. Commonweal will coordinate the partnership and will advise policymakers on statewide re-entry program development. For more information, visit www.commonweal.org.

Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) is a nonprofit organization established in 1985 with headquarters in San Francisco, California. The organizational mission is to reduce society’s use of incarceration as a solution to social problems. CJCJ will test a wraparound aftercare model at the county level and will host a website dedicated to youth reentry issues. For more information, visit www.cjcj.org.

National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), founded in 1907, is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Oakland, California, which promotes effective, humane, fair and economically sound solutions to family, community and justice problems. NCCD will develop new aftercare models for girls in the juvenile justice system. For more information, visit www.nccd-crc.org.

Youth Law Center (YLC) is a nonprofit legal advocacy group based in San Francisco, California, protecting the rights of children across the county in the nation’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems since 1978, with a particular focus on children in California. YLC will address legal and other barriers to employment, education and health care for reentry youth, and will also sponsor a faith-based citizen support network for juvenile offenders. For more information, visit www.ylc.org.

The media, policymakers, and juvenile justice professionals will be able to access a fact sheet about CJJRP at www.cjcj.org/juvenilejusticereentry.html.

www.cjcj.org/juvenilejusticereentry.html