The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC)'s mission is to change lives and create safe, healthy communities by providing a support and advocacy network for, and comprised of, formerly incarcerated men and women. ARC seeks to accomplish this mission by advocating for fair and just policies in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and providing services, support and opportunities to those in and coming home from the system. ARC's policy advocacy aims to reduce crime, decrease the use of incarceration, improve the outcomes of the formerly incarcerated, and increase investment in the people and communities most impacted by crime and incarceration.
Primary Contact Name: Bikila Ochoa
Position: Policy Director
The Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN) is an interdisciplinary collaborative that provides exceptional arts programming in order to build resiliency and wellness, eliminate recidivism, and transform the juvenile justice system.
Primary Contact Name: Kaile Schilling
The California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice (CAYCJ) works to drastically
reduce incarceration and improve outcomes for system-involved youth in California.
Primary Contact Name: David Muhammad
Human Rights Watch is a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization made up of roughly 400 staff members around the globe. Its staff consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.
Primary Contact Name: Elizabeth Calvin
Position: Senior Advocate, Children's Rights Division
The Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is working to build a movement to challenge race, gender and class inequality in Los Angeles County’s, California’s and the nation’s juvenile injustice systems. We are working to dismantle policies and institutions that have ensured the massive criminalization, lock-up and deportation of people of color, widespread police violence and distrust between police and communities, violation of youth and communities’ Constitutional and Human rights, and the build-up of the world’s largest prison system. We use coalition building, direct action organizing, public policy advocacy and activist arts to mobilize youth and their allies to reduce America’s addiction to incarceration, increase community-based alternatives, decrease police suppression tactics (including “broken windows” and the “wars” on gangs and drugs), end the school-to-jail track, and to improve conditions of confinement including working
to end Life Without Parole and other extreme sentencing of youth. The YJC is one of the nation’s few organizing projects led by system-involved youth, liberated lifers, and our families.
Primary Contact Name: Kim McGill
Bill Number: AB 1308
Type of Reform
Sentencing Reform - Made a person who was convicted of a controlling offense that was committed before the person had attained 18 years of age and for which a life sentence without the possibility of parole has been imposed eligible for release on parole by the board during his or her 25th year of incarceration at a youth offender parole hearing.
Bill Number: AB 1812 - WIN
Type of Reform
Type of Reform: This bill would, until June 1, 2026, also require the division to establish and operate a 7-year pilot program for transition age youth, as described. On or after January 1, 2019, the program would divert specified transition-aged youth from adult prison to a juvenile facility to provide developmentally appropriate rehabilitative programming designed for transition age youth with the goal of improving outcomes and reducing recidivism. The bill would require the department to develop program placement criteria and to initially target youth sentenced by a superior court who committed a specified crime when under 18 years of age. The bill would require the division to contract with various entities to evaluate the effects of participation in the program, among other things.
Bill Number: SB 1391 - WIN!
Type of Reform
Type of Reform: Raises the floor (minimum age) of transfer to adult court from 14 to 16
Bill Number: Proposition 57 - WIN!
Type of Reform
Transfer Reform - Ends direct file.
Bill Number: SB 9 - WIN!
Type of Reform
Sentencing Reform - allows for most offenders under the age of 18 at the time of their offense, and sentenced to juvenile life without parole (JLWOP), to petition the court to hold a new sentencing hearing after serving fifteen years of the original sentence.
Bill Number: SB 260 - WIN!
Type of Reform
Sentencing Reform - allows for Board of Parole Hearings to conduct a youth offender parole hearing to consider release of offenders who committed specified crimes prior to being 18 years of age and who were sentenced to state prison
Bill Number: SB 382 - WIN!
Type of Reform
Transfer Reform - This bill clarifies that a judge may consider a number of factors aside from the seriousness of the offense when determining during whether a youth should be transferred to the adult court. Specifically, the bill adds language from the Roper, Graham, and Miller Supreme Court cases on the importance and impact of youth on a young person’s behavior and ability to be rehabilitated.
Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act Ballot Proposition - WIN!
Type of Reform
Sentencing reform - returns most juveniles under 18 to juvenile court
Year: Introduced in 2016
If you want to take action in California and support the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act Ballot Proposition, click here.
Youth Transfer: Practice & Policy Advocacy
While most youth who are arrested on suspicion they committed a crime are handled in juvenile court, California law allows some to be transferred to the criminal court for adults. When deciding whether a young person’s case should be transferred to adult court, the juvenile court judge focuses on the young person and their background, as well as the crime they are charged with. Take a look at our recent NJDC workshop proposal for more info.
Juvenile InJustice: Charging Youth as Adults is Ineffective, Biased and Harmful
In all 50 states, youth under age 18 can be tried in adult criminal court through various types of juvenile transfer laws. In California, youth as young as 14 can be tried as adults at the discretion of a juvenile court judge. When young people are transferred out of the juvenile system, they are more likely to be convicted and typically receive harsher sentences than youth who remain in juvenile court charged with similar crimes.This practice undermines the purpose of the juvenile court system, pursues punishment rather than rehabilitation, and conflicts with what we know from developmental science. Furthermore, laws that allow youth to be tried as adults reflect and reinforce the racial inequities that characterize the justice system in United States. This report reviews the process that unfolds when a young person is tried as an adult in California and evaluate the health and equity impacts of charging youth as adults.
NJJN: A Moral Obligation to Meet the Promise of Fairness and Justice for Our Children
The American juvenile justice system was founded over a century ago on the basic (and correct) premise that children are different from adults and that dealing with crimes committed by them requires a different set of tools. Yet it seems that over time, the system has morphed into something never intended: one that actually punishes children more harshly than it would adults in similar situations – consider for example the fact that 95 percent of youth tried in adult courts have committed nonviolent offenses.
The Prosecution of Youth as Adults: A County Level Analysis of Prosecutorial Direct File in California and its Disparate Impact on Youth of Color
This report analyzes the use of direct file by district attorneys across California's 58 counties. It presents county rates of direct file compared to the youth population and rates of youth arrest, and highlights racial and ethnic disparities.
Unfettered Discretion, Negative Outcomes, and No Oversight: California’s Need for Data Collection on Juveniles Prosecuted as Adults
The article Unfettered discretion, negative outcomes, and no oversight: California’s need for data collection on juveniles prosecuted as adults (2015) highlights the negative outcomes of prosecuting youths as adults, especially of the practice of direct file.
Treat Kids as Kids: Why Youth Should Be Kept in the Juvenile System
Treat Kids as Kids: Why Youth Should Be Kept in the Juvenile System (2014) by the California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice traces California’s development of harshly punitive policies toward youth crime, highlighting ways the adult justice system puts young people at risk, and recommends policy changes that would bring the state closer to eliminating youth involvement in the adult criminal justice system.
Getting Paid: The bills collected by the Los Angeles County Department of Probation put youth at risk and impoverish families
This report (2012) exposes the impact on families when state and local governments bill them for thousands of dollars for the time their child is detained or incarcerated. Experiences and solutions are posed by low income and working class families who have had their tax refunds confiscated, wages garnished, and homes threatened by a huge multi-million-dollar bureaucracy – the L.A. County Department of Probation – that has been under federal investigation for abuse, neglect and miseducation of the youth in its care.
Welcome Home LA
Welcome Home LA (2012) documents the essential policies, resources and opportunities needed to ensure that people coming home from juvenile halls, jails and prisons can succeed. Many of the recommendations address the very real discrimination and isolation formerly incarcerated people face and offers new insight on issues of re-entry form those of us who have made the painful transition from cage to community.
Tracked and trapped: Youth of color, Gang databases and gang injunctions
From facing constant stops to breaking up families, this report (2012) describes the negative impacts gang injunctions have on youth and communities. Tracked and Trapped represents the preliminary results from a larger research project conducted by the Youth Justice Coalition’s! REALSEARCH" Action" Research" Center on the impacts of gang injunctions and Gang databases on Los Angeles’ youth and communities. In the 25 years since the LA County Sheriffs established the nation's first gang database, and 30 years since LA County implemented the nation's first gang injunctions, there has been almost no release of data regarding gang suppression policies, including who's impacted, let alone an evaluation of their cost or effectiveness.
Charging youths as adults in California: A county by county analysis of prosecutorial direct file practices
The report Charging youths as adults in California: A county by county analysis of prosecutorial direct file practices (2012) written by Mike Males and Selena Teji, examines county by county prosecutorial direct file practices between 2003 and 2010 to determine whether Proposition 21 (2000) has resulted in more commitments of youths to state institutional facilities than would have occurred otherwise. In light of these historic trends the report also reflects on the potential effect that the Governor’s proposed closure of the state’s Division of Juvenile Facilities (DJF)2 would have on prosecutorial direct file practices in California. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) finds that at least two-thirds of direct files do not result in state DJF or adult prison terms. Prosecutorial direct file has not proven an effective means of securing state prison sentences for youthful offenders compared to previously existing mechanisms, such as judicial transfer after juvenile court fitness hearings. While CJCJ was unable to determine the exact numbers of direct file cases that resulted in transfer from DJF to state prison at age 18, the number appears small and has declined sharply over the last three years. In addition, frequent usage of direct file appears to have no effect on crime compared to infrequent usage.