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Gov. Gavin Newsom took a step forward in his campaign for juvenile justice reform by visiting a juvenile detention center.
Speaking to officials, reporters, and young inmates, the governor said he hopes to bring changes as early as July. The first change, if approved by the legislature, will be to transfer the care of some 660 offenders from corrections to health and human services.
It is a small step, given there are tens of thousands of youth in the juvenile justice system. But it marks a change that is already working throughout the United States.
"A New Mark"
According to reports, about 40 states place juvenile detention under health and human services or child welfare departments. California is one of only ten states that handles juvenile justice through corrections.
"This is about setting a new mark," Newsom told the crowd in Stockton. "We are committed about ending the juvenile justice system as we know it once and for all."
Newsome talked about a pre-apprentice construction program and new computer coding classes. Young offenders will be able to learn new skills under the new administration, he said.
Probation officers and others, however, expressed concerns. They wonder what is it going to look like when hundreds of youth change programs.
Process Will Change
There are about 39,000 young people in the corrections system now. They generally go from detention through probation to their homes, but that process will change under the new system.
"The devil is going to be in the details," said Dominique Nong, a policy associate for the child advocacy nonprofit Children's Defense Fund.