Faced with many problems at the California Youth Authority, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to shift more juvenile offenders and parolees to programs operated by counties, says the San Jose Mercury News. Reformers and county officials reacted cautiously. They said the change could improve services for youth offenders, but they want to make sure the cash-strapped state isn’t simply dumping responsibilities on local agencies that have budget problems of their own.
The proposal appears to concede what some critics long have argued: Juvenile offenders may do better when they are placed in programs closer to home, and when they are supervised by local authorities instead of state agents during parole. “I think we could certainly do as good and possibly a better job — if we are given appropriate resources,” said Loren Buddress, chief probation officer for San Mateo County. “That’s a giant if.” “The devil’s in the details around the money,” acknowledged Kevin Carruth, undersecretary of the state’s Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. “The state is making a really serious effort to work in a collaborative way, to improve the juvenile justice system.”