The suit accused the then-California Youth Authority of warehousing juveniles in prison-like facilities that had too much violence and too few educational opportunities. The conditions, the suit said, made it impossible for the state to meet its mandate of helping youths turn their lives around. State officials said a revised disciplinary system had resulted in a 134 percent increase in credit for good behavior and a nearly 73 percent decrease in time added to sentences for bad behavior. Critics said much work remains. Don Specter of the Prison Law Office, which was involved in the lawsuit, said, “They have made substantial improvements – things are a lot better now than when we filed and settled the case, but they still have major hurdles to overcome that are central to reform efforts. Treatment and rehabilitation is very haphazard, there’s not a singular model and there’s no requirement that they get a specific amount of rehabilitation programming.”
More than five years after California agreed to a court-monitored overhaul of its juvenile corrections system, corrections officials say they have completed more than 80 percent of the required policy changes, resulting in more education and less violence, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The state was ordered to make more than 8,000 policy and program changes by a court-appointed monitor after agreeing to settle a class-action lawsuit in 2004.