Today’s Morning Mix on KPFA included an interesting coverage of the status quo regarding juvenile justice institutions in California.

The story included interviews with Selena Teji from CJCJ and Bryan Lalock from Bay Area Legal Aid. As Teji and Lalock explained, counties offer a continuum of institutions, ranging from electronic monitoring, through community service, group homes, juvenile hall commitments, to fully locked county-run facilities (camps and ranches). The state level institutions are designed to house the “worst of the worst” and unsuitable for the needs of the juvenile population. The infrastructure is run down and violence runs rampant. There has been extensive litigation addressing the inability of state institutions to provide mental health settings and offer reentry services (the latter are much easier on the county level, where public defense has a better interface with community institutions, and where juveniles are closer to the family).

Given the atrocious status of state institutions, they would have to be replaced, but our budgetary difficulties make that impossible; initially, Governor Brown wanted to do away with all state facilities, but was faced with opposition. The new plan is a “buy back” option, in which countries could receive the money and could either handle inmates within the county or pay the state to house them in state facilities. The choice might be different between bigger and smaller counties. However, for all counties, money is an important factor; state-run institutions have exceedingly high recidivism rates.

Finally, should voters decline to reaffirm the vehicle tax, the realignment may be off, and the situation will not improve.

Listen to the whole show – it also featured a discussion of the prison industrial complex.

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