For decades, many California teens convicted of serious crimes — such as robbery, assault, and murder — were sent to state juvenile prisons.
This year Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the closure of these state facilities. Under a new law, California’s three remaining youth prisons will no longer accept newly convicted youth after July 2021. Instead, counties will be responsible for young offenders who’ve committed the most serious offenses.
Those counties have until July to create plans to incorporate young people into their current juvenile hall and probation systems, but it’s unclear how much funding they’ll receive from the state.
Opponents, including the California State Association of Counties, worry that counties are unprepared to adapt to the new law — and that this may drive them to send more young people to adult prisons.
Some youth advocates agree, but argue that being closer to home will help convicted youth stay connected with their community, and lower the chance that they commit crimes in the future.
The state prison closures don’t affect the 750 youth already incarcerated in state juvenile facilities. After all of them have been released or age out of the facilities at age 25, the state Division of Juvenile Justice will shut down entirely.
Keep watching CalMatters.org for more in-a-minute videos about other new laws taking effect in 2021. They make up a smaller tally than usual given that the coronavirus pandemic dominated the Legislature’s 2020 session.
CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.