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January 30, 2017
CDF-CA is working to make sure that a diverse set of voices—particularly those of youth and families with direct experience of being incarcerated in California youth facilities—is heard during the process to revise the Minimum Standards for Juvenile Facilities. In November 2016, the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) began a mandatory process for revising the regulations that apply to some 124 county lock-ups (including juvenile halls, camps and ranches) across the 58 counties in CA. The standards govern nearly every aspect of a youth’s experience while incarcerated—what food he receives, how often he can see or call his family, schooling, whether he receives clean underwear, what forms of punishment he’s allowed to receive, whether and for how long he can be put in solitary confinement, to name a few.
Since October, CDF-CA has been collaborating with key partners to take advantage of a significant opportunity to address conditions of confinement in county juvenile lock-ups across the state. Our efforts to date have included hosting a webinar for advocates and community members to explain specific ways for them to participate in the regulations revisions process. CDF-CA has also helped coordinate a youth-friendly survey and youth focus group to collect and give to the BSCC important feedback on what needs to change in the facilities so that our young people are treated with dignity and respect. Over 80 youth and family members participated in the survey and focus group, and their powerful stories and suggestions were formally submitted to the BSCC.
The revisions process will continue for at least the next 6 months, and CDF-CA will continue to advocate throughout the process to ensure transparency and the inclusion of traditionally ignored individuals with true expertise on how to best care for and meet the needs of our incarcerated youth.