Carlos* was only 14 years when he was locked up in a California youth prison. Growing up in a rough neighborhood in Northern CA, there were few resources for him or his younger brothers. Carlos was swept up by gangs and ended up serving a 10 year sentence in Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), leaving his siblings and childhood behind.
For 10 long years, our state spent millions of dollars to lock him up in a cell. Meanwhile, the state spent a tiny fraction of that amount providing an inadequate education to his younger brothers.
When Carlos was finally released earlier this year, he returned to a neighborhood that hasn't changed. Resources for youth are still scarce. He worries about his little brothers growing up in a society that would rather lock them up than invest in their educations and future.
Carlos' experience is only one example of why California ranks near the bottom in education spending and performance, but we're #1 in prison spending. DJJ drains much-needed resources from California's schools and the vital community programs that would help our State thrive. It's time to close the expensive, abusive DJJ and redirect those resources into our schools.
Call on Governor Jerry Brown to protect our schools and California's future by closing the Division of Juvenile Justice once and for all!
*Carlos' name has been changed to protect his privacy for fear of retaliation.
The state is facing another round of massive cuts to education, health care and other vital services that Californians depend on everyday. How can the state cut these important services while it continues to waste scarce funds on the broken youth prison system? California teachers don't have enough money to supply pencils to their students, but the state spends more than $215,000 per youth, per year to lock them up in a concrete cell with little to no programming.
When we invest in young people with education and opportunities, all of us gain. When we lock them up and deny them a chance for a better future, we lose.
Don't cut our schools, Cut the DJJ!