Petition Closed

"DJJ is the worst thing that ever happened to my son and our family. The youth prison system is a disgrace for California and its closing is past due." - Lourdes Duarte, Families for Books Not Bars

The Ella Baker Center and its Books Not Bars campaign celebrates Governor Jerry Brown's budget proposal that eliminates the harmful, abusive Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth prisons.

Books Not Bars has been calling for DJJ’s closure for seven years. And finally, Sacramento is listening.

Governor Brown has called his proposed budget “painful.” With deep cuts to vital human and health services, plus nearly $1.5 billion in cuts to higher education, the next few years will be challenging. Considering the cuts to these important programs, closing DJJ makes more sense now than ever. The DJJ drains our state budget of hundreds of millions of dollars each year and fails more than 8 out of 10 youth who are released from its prisons. We cannot afford to fund a wasteful, broken system that hurts our youth and worsens the deficit.

But the fight is not over. Opponents are already contacting lawmakers to urge them to oppose this crucial plan.. Sign this petition now! This is our chance to show Sacramento that the majority of Californians want a juvenile justice system that invests in youth, their families, and our communities—not miserable warehouses that just add damage to damage.

Letter to
State Senator Lois Wolk
State Representative Michael Morrell 2
State Representative Adrin Nazarian
I am writing in strong support for the closure of the Division of Juvenile Justice ('DJJ"). Governor Brown's budget proposed to close DJJ by 2014. By closing the ineffective and costly youth prison system, our State can save hundreds of millions of dollars and improve youth outcomes.

California has a budget deficit of more than $25 billion. The Governor has proposed to slash billions from vital health and human services. Cuts to our state's colleges and universities will total nearly $1.5 billion. These cuts will be painful to struggling children, students and families all over California. That's why now it's more important than ever to close DJJ.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year to lock up a small number of youth in the notorious DJJ youth prisons. Costing over $200,000 to lock up one youth per year, DJJ's recidivism rate is an appalling 81%, one of the worst in the nation. State officials and independent experts have estimated that the state must make nearly $265 million in capital improvements and infrastructure repairs in order to provide the minimum rehabilitative environment suitable for youth. We cannot continue to fund this failure.

I stand with the Books Not Bars campaign and a growing number of Californians who support the closure of DJJ. We cannot afford to keep DJJ open. Please support the its closure and do what's right for youth, families, students, the elderly, and our children.