SACRAMENTO – The California Office of Youth and Community Restoration (OYCR) and Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) announced today the four counties selected via a competitive process to participate in the Ending Girls’ Incarceration in California Action Network (the Action Network). Through their participation in the Action Network over the next year, Imperial, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego Counties are committing to implement equitable policies and gender-responsive programming to immediately reduce girls’ incarceration and set in motion multi-year plans to end youth incarceration as we know it. Participating counties will receive grants from OYCR and technical assistance from Vera to help improve programming, collect data, and close policy gaps for girls and gender expansive youth.
“The work to transform California’s youth justice system has been ongoing for decades, and we are meeting this movement with a historic investment to reform and redesign how we approach justice for girls and gender-expansive youth,” said Judge Katherine Lucero (Ret.), Director of the California Office of Youth and Community Restoration. “We have been thrilled to see the interest that this opportunity has generated across the state and believe that with targeted support, these four counties have the potential to become leaders for their peers in California and nationally.”
“These four counties demonstrated a strong commitment toward ending girls’ incarceration and addressing the race and gender disparities in their youth legal systems, and we look forward to partnering with them in this critical effort,” said Lindsay Rosenthal, director of the Initiative to End Girls’ Incarceration at Vera. “It’s an important step towards realizing justice and freedom for girls and gender-expansive youth of color, and we are excited to see the momentum build among youth legal system leadership in California—a state that has always played an important role in youth legal reform.”
Background on Ending Girls’ Incarceration
Data released by Vera today highlights significant progress toward ending juvenile detention as we know it over the past decade, but it also shows that the girls and gender-expansive youth entering California’s youth legal facilities are overwhelmingly youth of color. Latina and Black girls together account for 80 percent of girls’ admissions to detention, with Latina girls making up the majority of girls’ detentions. The data also identifies clear opportunities for reform to address these disparities while promoting community safety. For example, despite significant reductions in girls’ incarceration numbers over the past decade, over 67 percent of girls’ arrests and over 45 percent of girls’ detention admissions in 2021 were for misdemeanors and offenses like curfew violations, skipping school, or running away. Research shows that these types of low-level offenses can and should be addressed through community-based alternatives, which are often lacking for girls and gender-expansive youth.
Building on the progress and momentum taking shape across the state and country, the Action Network is part of Vera and OYCR’s broader partnership toward ending girls’ incarceration in California—which accounts for roughly 13 percent of the country’s long term commitments of girls. Vera’s national Initiative to End Girls’ Incarceration first came to California in 2019 to partner with government and community leaders in Santa Clara County, which has seen a 60 percent drop in girls’ detention admissions since the work started.
Action Network counties will join leaders from across the country in developing proven solutions that provide a roadmap for systemic change. The four selected counties will work together and with Vera to examine their local data, identify system and programming gaps, and implement policy and programming solutions to meaningfully reduce girls’ incarceration. At the conclusion of the Action Network, they will be eligible for additional funding from OYCR to support ongoing coordination and implementation of local efforts to end girls’ incarceration.
How the Partnership Will Work
Over the course of the Action Network’s first year, OYCR will provide grants of $125,000 to each site to support administration and coordination. Counties with bold and effective plans can receive two-year grants of up to $750,000 to continue this work beyond the first year—including up to $250,000 to support probation departments or other government agencies in implementing reforms, and up to $500,000 for community-based organizations to build capacity toward programmatic solutions. Throughout the initiative, OYCR will work in partnership with Vera with the goal of expanding the work of ending girls’ incarceration to all counties in the state.
More information on girls’ incarceration in California can be found on Vera’s website, where users can explore the data and compare their county to others across the state.
Learn more about CalHHS OYCR.