The #SanFrancisco community is trying to shut down its juvenile detention center by the end of 2021 and replace it with programs that will serve as alternatives to incarceration.
The measure is backed by dozens of community organizers, the city’s youth and city officials, who stood on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall on Tuesday to rally support for it, @blackvoices reports. People held signs that read, “Books not bars,” “Free us kids” and “No youth jail.”
“We’re going to shut down juvenile hall, close youth prisons and build leaders together,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton, who spent time in the city’s Juvenile Hall as a teen.
Members of the city’s Board of Supervisors introduced legislation on Tuesday, backed by six of the city’s 11 supervisors, to close the youth detention center within three years and instead create programs to serve as “alternatives to incarceration” for youth who don’t need to be detained and a smaller rehabilitative “non-institutional” center for those who by law need to be in a facility.
The proposed bill would create a 12-person working group, made up of officials from city agencies, juvenile justice experts and community members, who’d spend the next couple of years designing these alternative programs.
The bill would also create a fund to redirect money previously allocated for juvenile hall to community-based programs, mental health support and academic help for youth involved in the justice system.
San Francisco’s public defender’s office and District Attorney George Gascón have both come out in support of the measure.
“The days of big juvenile halls should be behind us, said Gascon in a news release.
San Francisco’s juvenile hall had 45 young people, between the ages of 13 and 18, detained in January, according to the city’s juvenile probation department report. The facility, which can hold up to 132 people, is meant to detain youth accused of committing offenses and who are awaiting court hearings or court-ordered placement.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed does not appear to support the measure.
She said it was “irresponsible to begin this incredibly important conversation that will impact people’s lives by presupposing any outcomes,” to HuffPost in a statement.
TSR STAFF: Christina C! @cdelafresh