YLC files lawsuit against Sacramento County to ensure public’s participation in juvenile justice planning
YLC and the law firm Baker McKenzie have filed a new lawsuit to ensure that county juvenile justice planning complies with state open meeting laws. The lawsuit was filed against Sacramento County on behalf of Youth Forward, a Sacramento-based non-profit that works to improve the health, education, and wellbeing of Sacramento’s most vulnerable children and youth. Currently, Sacramento County is conducting important juvenile justice planning behind closed doors, preventing Youth Forward and other community groups from participating in these policymaking processes. The goal of the case is to obtain a court order requiring Sacramento County and its local juvenile justice planning bodies to follow the open and public meeting laws under the Brown Act.
Now is a crucial moment for community participation in local juvenile justice policy decisions. California is closing its state youth prisons and “realigning” juvenile justice jurisdiction to the counties. The intent is for counties to implement a public health approach that promotes positive youth development and reduces reliance on confinement. But, this realignment process will succeed only if community members, particularly justice-impacted youth and families, have a meaningful seat at the planning table. Directly impacted youth and families are best positioned to identify what is needed to help young people succeed and move out of the juvenile justice system.
Unfortunately, counties around the state have been conducting their juvenile justice planning without the legally required community participation. In 2021, YLC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Center for Leadership, Equity, and Research (CLEAR) against Fresno County for similarly failing to follow the Brown Act. That case settled earlier this year, with a commitment from Fresno County to not only follow public meeting laws, but also to take further steps to ensure significant community involvement. With this new lawsuit, YLC and our client Youth Forward will be working to ensure that Sacramento families and young people can participate in the county's juvenile justice planning going forward.
Read the full press release here.