California’s juvenile justice system is changing: a new law directs state youth prisons to shut down by 2023 and counties to designate a local detention facility to house young people who previously would have been transferred to a state facility. Youth in the juvenile justice system are ages 13 to 25 and are adjudicated for offenses that range from violent and serious, such as assault and robbery, to non-violent, such as possession of drugs. A disproportionate majority of the youth in state facilities, 88% in 2020, are Black and Latino.
Formerly incarcerated students were less than half as likely to return to jail after they wrote to their teachers.
Recent laws have spurred historic changes to the state's juvenile system, where hundreds of young people are incarcerated each year at one of the state's four facilities.
By 2023 each county will have to take over the responsibility of finding appropriate housing facilities for young people in their local juvenile justice system. Implementing the law is proving to be difficult.