ICYMI: Probation Chiefs Announce New Proposal that Elevates and Evolves Juvenile Justice
The Elevate Justice Act will raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to encompass all teenagers with an elevated focus on rehabilitation and restorative justice for youth


Last week the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) discussed on KQED-FM radio its new proposal, known as the Elevate Justice Act, that builds from the decade of successful reforms further elevating and evolving the juvenile justice system.

“Probation has proven that an evidence-based approach focused on rehabilitation and accountability is what works to protect public safety and help rebuild lives. The Elevate Justice Act is the natural and research-based evolution of our implemented reforms and elevates juvenile justice to the next level,” said CPOC President Chief Stephanie James.

“Our proposal uses mounting brain science research to include emerging adults into age-appropriate juvenile programming and services giving them a stronger opportunity to have long term success in the community. The proposal also holistically and individually focuses on juveniles and emerging adults incorporating proven and comprehensive rehabilitation and restorative justice approaches that will help reduce recidivism, elevate community safety and support youth.”

The Elevate Justice Act is a comprehensive elevation of the current juvenile justice system to continue its evolution of evidence-based approaches to help youth individually and holistically receive the support and services they need to get and stay on a healthy life pathway.

A key component of the Elevate Justice Act relies on mounting brain science and research which proposes to include all teenagers (18 and 19-year olds) into the juvenile system to be treated with age-appropriate intensive services and focus on the rehabilitation and restorative justice programs that have proven to make a difference. These young adults will also have the benefits of record sealing to help eliminate the added barrier to gaining employment or housing.

CPOC President Chief Stephanie James and Executive Director Karen Pank discussed with KQED why this proposal is the next step in juvenile justice continuing its trajectory of focused and evidence-based programs and services that creates accountability and appropriate support for youth. A 2016 report from the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management from the Harvard Kennedy School cited that “when comparing youth who were prosecuted in the adult system to those retained in the juvenile system, the former had a 34% to 77% greater likelihood of being re-arrested for a crime. They were also more likely to be re-arrested for a more violent crime than those exiting the juvenile system.”

Excerpt from the KQED article:

“We do have a record of following the research, following the data, doing what we know is the right balance of public safety and improving the lives of those we work with,” said CPOC Executive Director Karen Pank.”

Vincent Schiraldi, co-director of Columbia University’s Justice Lab, said he understands why some criminal justice reform groups are concerned about expanding the state’s juvenile system. But, he added, research also shows that young people’s brains are still developing into their mid-20s, and that treating a young adult differently simply because they turn 18 doesn’t really make much sense.

Schiraldi was heartened to see provisions built into the CPOC proposal that would limit young offenders’ overall exposure to the criminal justice system, including by capping the amount of time a young person could spend on probation. He also noted that although juvenile court records are sealed, adult records can haunt someone for the rest of their life.”

For full article from KQED News, click here.

Key Elements of the Elevate Justice Act include:

Elevate the juvenile age to all teenagers allowing for 18 and 19-year olds the benefits of age-appropriate intensive rehabilitation services

  • Provides the benefits of record sealing to eliminate the added barrier to gaining employment or housing as well as the other barriers associated with having a felony conviction. 

Elevate and further evolve the juvenile justice system focused on rehabilitation for youth

  • Develop individualized treatment and rehabilitation plans based on specific risk and protective factors
  • Further limit detention by requiring the use of a risk-based intake assessment       
  • Address juvenile facilities to best reflect the programming and service needs of youth

Elevate safe communities by further incorporating evidence-based rehabilitative and restorative practices that address behavior to reverse the cycle of victimization in our communities.

  • Expand the use of restorative justice programming as a part of individualized treatment and rehabilitation plans to reduce future victimization

For more information about CPOC, please go to www.cpoc.org.