THOUSANDS OF YOUTH CHARGED AS ADULTS (11/26/10)
Thousands of youth are now charged as adults and sent to facilities to join harden criminals and deprived of opportunities that they would have got if sent to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in recent years in youth facilities.
At one time over 10,000 youth were sent to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Now, that number floats around 1,300. At one time the CDCR had a bad rap but facilities such as those at Preston brought about changes and models that were implemented all over California.
The plight of youth today is one where they are mostly sent to the local Juvenile Facilities and these facilities are pathetic to say the least. As I mentioned if the authorities encounter some youth that is incorrigible, the authorities will take any short cut to send these youth to some Adult Facility where they cannot be rehabilitated most of the time. They can be sent outside the State and this is not fair but it is done all the time.
A simple fact like attaining a General Education Diploma (GED) is not available at the many Adult facilities. The CDCR has the ability to deal with the youth and in most cases provide them with a GED diploma. The authorities know this but few will speak up and do something about it.
The present California State Budget is forcing the better facilities such as Preston that has contributed so much; located in a community that prides itself to work at the facility and the many employees working at Preston have taken it upon themselves to work hard, and provide the youth incarcerated at Preston with the best they can offer.
As many of us know incarceration has become a business in this Nation - there are companies raking in millions in profit in this billion of dollars plus business. Behind the scenes major players are looking at numbers and if they cannot attain the numbers with the adults and ploys akin to the three strikes law - they will fish in deeper waters to hook in our youth and treat them worse and as adults. All in the name of greed.
Over three million are incarcerated in our Nation that has a population of three hundred million. Over 700,000 plus incarcerated are released into communities all over the Nation every year and many of these venture into California impacting our town and cities. Three strikes and some other mundane laws have not helped California. Mothers and Fathers and family and supporters are crying for justice ˆ but just we have to bear the burden and suffer knowing that many of those incarcerated should not be with hardened criminals and in many cases they are - innocent.
When I visit some of our State and Federal jails, it is pathetic to see how we treat our sons and daughters. Be it San Quentin closer to San Francisco, the prison in Chowchilla where over four thousand sisters linger without sound education and drug rehabilitation programs that have been defunded. The other many State and Federal prisons, too many to mention, where many of our men and women linger with little or no hope and Society is immune to their suffering because they feel it is none of their business. If fact it is.
The present Governor of California does not care and once Jerry Brown becomes Governor, we hope, he will do something about this drastic situation. In some prison where ten should be housed in a unit twenty are. In some prison gyms are used, to house prisoners, with beds stacked in rows, five and six beds -high. None of us like to talk about this situation and few of us dare to the take on the Correctional Officers and the Machine that leeches on those that are incarcerated. Folks that have no real voice, others know about the situation at hand and do not care. But, as you may well imagine there are other that really care.
The latest statistics reveal about 143,000 were incarcerated in the year 2008 at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Closer to home the latest statistics reveal in the year 2007 the daily population in our county jail to be around 2000. Those sentenced to prison around 700 and those sentenced to jail around 4000. Those on probation in San Francisco around 9000 in number. The latest statistics are there but not available to the public at large.
California has a recidivism rate of about sixty percent as revealed by the CDCR report of 2009. The process from prison or jail back into the community is referred to reentry. It has been stated that about ninety five percent of those incarcerated will be released back into the community. Closer to home in San Francisco we have some sound reentry programs but we are aiming for reintegration which means the individual contributes and integrates herself or himself as part of the community.
Now, it is difficult but there are some models that have tweaked the programs and attained excellent results - Delancey Street is one of them in San Francisco. Delancey Street programs have been accepted in five other places all over this Nation. We must feel proud of this institution that raises its own money and does not beg for State and Federal funds. The institution has been in place and growing and has just completed its 40th anniversary:
As years go by the incarceration system is trying to employ short cuts and really the Correction Officers in many of the facilities barring some like Preston for youth, that are caring, far from doing that are using the facilities to first further their own end with high salaries and look down about the incarcerated population. There is a drastic review of the CDCR that really has no money and with the State in an eighty billion dollar deficit - this does not help.
San Francisco does have some advocates and our elected Sheriff, Michael Hennessey and our Public Defender Jeff Adachi have been compassioned and created models and mechanism to help our youth and adults. At the Juvenile Center William Sifferman and Allen Nance have been trying their best. Again and again the question of funding and cooperation with the community at large seems to be a key factor. The Log Cabin facilities, the other planned facilities are all under some scrutiny, it is easy to criticize because those that work in these facilities are stressed out and many use Workers Compensation to stay out and receive benefits. The heads of these Departments are known to me and as much as I wish to write about some of the things I know, I have to take a holistic approach given the dire economics of the time and the lack of resources forcing everyone to live within their means. I have access when our youth need help.
I get hundreds of letters from the incarcerated and many of them are heart wrenching. I am lucky that I can visit most of the facilities and have been treated well. This Thanksgiving I am writing these few lines so that those that know me and those that help me in this work - fully understand that we all appreciate the sacrifice, the hard work you all do to bring solace, comfort, and fight for what is right in our prison - system.
There are many lingering in prison, behind the wall, when they really should not. The system is created not to give most a second chance; but, I do know that there are many that work within the system that are afraid to confront the system even when they know the TRUTH. The judicial system is antiquated and those charged often get the most inferior representation. We go to court and witness the tragedy and some do nothing about it. Some of us that do, have to bear the consequences but that is fine because there is a higher judicial system that can adjudicate - better.
Sisters and Brothers behind the wall
We hope and send our love
The letters you send