Last week, 23 inmates at California’s Jack B. Clarke High School, within the locked gates of a state youth correctional facility, were the last graduates to receive diplomas at the school, which is closing at year’s end due to state budget cuts, the Los Angeles Times reports. “This is the place where I learned I could change if I wanted to,” said one graduate who has been in detention for 5 years after being convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.
It will be the third such facility to close since 2009. Shuttering the facility will save the state about $44 million annually. It is part of a continuing overhaul of California’s juvenile justice system, which has seen the number of youths in state facilities decline to about 1,200 from more than 10,000 in the mid 1990s. Except for those who commit the most serious and violent crimes, youthful offenders are now housed in county facilities, closer to their families, which experts say aids their rehabilitation. Only three state juvenile justice facilities will remain.