California youth corrections officials met at Stanford University on Friday with 80 representatives of the criminal justice system — including judges, probation officers, police, and prisoner advocates — to hear proposals for reforming the state’s troubled juvenile justice system, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The reform task is daunting and urgent, said participants after listening to ideas from a group of five nationally known juvenile justice experts. The experts have been hired by the state to deliver a report by March 30.
The expert review of the juvenile system’s overhaul plan is part of a court-ordered settlement between the state and the advocacy group Prison Law Office, which filed a class-action saying the youth system failed to satisfy its mandate to protect the public by providing treatment and rehabilitation. There are about 4,000 youths in the system.
The Mercury News was refused entry to the daylong meeting by state corrections officials and the Prison Law Office. They said media coverage would discourage “open and honest discussion.” “It was a good opportunity for the experts to hear from the stakeholder community,” said Bernard Warner, chief deputy of the juvenile justice division. “The impact of these plans do affect the judges who hand down sentences, and so the more confidence they have in the system and support for reforms, it will improve the service we provide for youth in our system.” He said the experts’ ideas “build on” the juvenile system’s own reforms.