Youth Justice

Big win for youth justice in LA County

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Earlier this week, Los Angeles County’s Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC) adopted a budget that makes a landmark reinvestment of nearly $7 million of funding from probation to community-based youth development supports.

The budget outlines how the county will spend up $28 to $31 million in Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) funds that it receives each year from the state. JJCPA was created by the Crime Prevention Act of 2000 to provide a stable funding source for local programs, services and strategies aimed at curbing delinquency among at-risk youth and youth in the probation system.

The budget is based on the new holistic framework focused on youth development that ​the JJCC approved on March 18, which overhauls the funding strategies for JJCPA for the first time in about 18 years. In the new budget, $4.4 million will go toward the salaries of “school-based” probation officers, down from nearly $11 million. The reduction came after the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a motion on March 26, instructing the JJCC to make further changes to the budget. Many JJCC members expressed support for a dramatic reduction to probation funding in light of their low caseload numbers, which resulted from the elimination of “voluntary probation” last year in schools and overall declines in youth on probation.

The JJCC has created a new taskforce to further decide on how to spend another $13 million of JJCPA “growth” funds that the county received, as well as to recommend mid-year and future changes to the budget.

The reinvestment of $6.6 million into youth development is significant—both for its significant amount and the private-public partnership with community foundations to distribute the money. The shift can also be seen as a turning point as county leadership increasingly appreciates the importance of community services and partnership in the addressing the needs of our young people. For several years, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Urban Peace Institute, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Youth Justice Coalition, Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network and other members of the Los Angeles Youth Uprising coalition have been advocating systematically for redirecting resources from outdated strategies into community-based youth development and diversion models.

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