Efforts to fix California’s scandal-plagued youth prison system will flop unless the state stops housing young lawbreakers in remote “warehouses” and instead puts them in small living centers close to their homes, an advocacy group has told the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Los Angeles Times reports. State officials endorsed housing offenders in small groups, but said the money to do so was unavailable.
Officials are trying to reshape a youth prison system where three of four parolees rearrested within three years of release. “Our fear is that the state will come in with new programs, with more staff and other tinkering, but just leave the existing structure in place,” said Daniel Macallair of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco, an author of a report sent to the Schwarzenegger administration. “That won’t do it. We need a radical departure from the past.” The report said the state could save $160 million by closing its eight youth prisons and using the money to shift its 3,450 inmates to “regional rehabilitation centers” with 30 beds or fewer. The centers could be in unused county probation camps, renovated community buildings or juvenile halls, the authors said.