To make California’s disgraced juvenile corrections system into a national model, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to shrink the population radically, shipping about half the state’s inmates to county lockups, the Los Angeles Times reports. The governor wants to reserve state youth prisons, which house 2,800 inmates, for violent male offenders only. By mid-2008, the governor would relocate about 1,340 youths – nonviolent parole violators, all female offenders, and virtually all those convicted of drug and property crimes.
“The state system has become the dirty washbasin for every unmanageable kid in California, and by nearly every measure it’s a failure,” said David Steinhart, a juvenile justice expert. “It’s hard to see how pushing kids back to the counties can be any worse.” Barry Krisberg of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency praised the plan but urged caution: “Just shifting them from one bad situation to another is not a good idea. This is a fabulous proposal, and the research supports it. We just need to answer a million questions to pull it off.”