A California watchdog commission called yesterday for the state to phase out its antiquated juvenile prisons by 2011, replacing them with regional lockups run by counties, the Associated Press reports. The regional centers would hold only the most dangerous offenders under the proposal from the Little Hoover Commission. Less serious offenders would be housed at local juvenile halls.
Commissioners said the state should end a three-year experiment combining youth and adult prisons under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Authority over youth prisons would be placed under an Office of Juvenile Justice reporting to the governor until the state ends its involvement. The report suggests that the youth prisons do little in the way of rehabilitation, saying three of four freed young offenders commit new crimes within three years. It will cost taxpayers $378 million next year to care for the state’s 1,500 juvenile inmates, the panel said in a report to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders.