Preston Youth Correctional Facility is California’s oldest youth prison. Preston is located an hour northeast of Stockton and houses just 224 young people. As one of the state's oldest correctional facilities it is in abysmal condition and is extremely expensive to operate.
Its location makes true rehabilitation efforts very challenging -- most of the youths serving time there are hours away from their families. Keeping them from the support systems they need makes the hard work of turning their lives around much more difficult.
Finally, this past October, prison officials announced that they would be closing Preston, saving the state $30 million a year -- but this long-overdue decision is now in jeopardy. Some people are opposing the closure because of the economic impact -- and they seem to think prison jobs are more important than what's best for youth.
We must close this ineffective and expensive facility -- and put youth first. Tell the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to stick with the plan to close Preston.
(1) it is the most remote youth prison making family contact difficult,
(2) its ancient design thwarts rehabilitation, and
(3) the State can not afford the $40 million in renovations required for Preston.
Youth and staff still report that Preston is an unsafe environment for youth. With a shrinking youth prison population and an expensive system that fails to deliver positive youth outcomes, the decision to close Preston is a sound one.
The California Legislative Analyst's Office recently reported a $25 billion budget deficit. The State must move away from failed policies that waste money. We cannot afford to keep Preston open. The lives of our youth are worth far too much.
I stand with the Books Not Bars Campaign and a growing number of Californians who strongly support the closure of Preston and urge you to remain steadfast in your decision.