Allen Breed, former director of the California Youth Authority and the National Institute of Corrections, died last weekend at 90. Barry Krisberg of the University of California Berkeley law school, a former colleague, writes that, “ur systems of juvenile justice and corrections are so much better for his heroic reform efforts.” (Krisberg’s essay will be published later by Youth Today).
Under his leadership, the California youth agency “became renowned worldwide for its innovative research and treatment programs,” Krisberg says. Among other things, he led a statewide effort to remove juvenile status offenders from secure confinement and was a key advocate for the passage of the 1974 federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act. At the National Institute of Corrections in the Jimmy Carter administration, Breed focused attention on the vast disproportionate number of people of color in jails and prisons. He was instrumental in the passage of the federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. Later, Breed headed the board of directors for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for a decade, and was central to saving that organization, Krisberg says. He was effective in mediating conflicts between civil rights lawyers and corrections officials.