California’s Prisons: Suppression, not rehabilitation by Rachel Meyer

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Sent to DS from the author.

by Rachel Meyer
Dandelion Salad
January 29, 2010
previously published at The WIP– January 28, 2010

California’s Prison Spending Grows While the State Budget Shrinks

As I sit and write this, a young man sits in County Jail awaiting his sentence. Three years ago he was involved in a fight while in juvenile hall for drug related charges. This fight made him eligible for Division of Juvenile Justice, formerly known as California Youth Authority (I prefer to call it Gladiator School). However, it‘s not the fight that will likely send him to DJJ – it’s the two drug tests he failed in a row.

My client is a drug addict; he has not committed another violent offense. Since his time with me, he has enrolled in adult school, has set his sights on college, and has survived circumstances that would make most of us lie down in the fetal position and give up. And yet this young man can still be sent to prison or spend extended time in County Jail for smoking marijuana. Since the beginning of my employment in the California Juvenile Justice System as a Social Worker, I’ve come to accept that most of the adolescents I work with are entrenched in a system that trains them to become better prisoners rather than productive citizens. I often find myself asking, “Is this justice?”

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