Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis released the following statement in response to Oakland-based Impact Justice and the County’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative joining forces to create a new AmeriCorps-County-funded employment program for youth released from the California Department of Juvenile Justice:

“The California Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is responsible for housing detained individuals who are 25 years or younger and who were sentenced as youth to serve time through the juvenile courts, but not found suitable for confinement at a County facility. Los Angeles County is responsible for nearly 25 percent of all youth detained in these statewide facilities.

“Although the DJJ is responsible for providing programming to youth, its programs are lacking. In fact, individuals subjected to the DJJ’s services report a 40 percent recidivism rate within three years. The system is failing them if they are becoming repeat offenders and returning to custody within three years of their release. This is unacceptable. Our justice-involved youth deserve more.

“We have an opportunity to turn these statistics around through this unique employment program that will train youth who have served time in a DJJ facility to become re-entry navigators for other youth and adults coming out of custody facilities. By example, they will demonstrate to their younger peers how they can successfully re-enter their communities after release. Impact Justice has teamed up with the County’s my Brother’s Keeper initiative to identify a number of community-based organizations who will train and support these young people who will serve as re-entry navigators.

“Young people who have experienced incarceration face hurdles in finding jobs, securing affordable housing, gaining access to education, and rebuilding healthy relationships with their families. This first-of-its-kind program in the country demonstrates LA County’s commitment in supporting justice-involved youth of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an example of the County following through on its intent to transition to a ‘care first, jail last’ approach to community health and safety. I am proud to support this endeavor and am confident this program will transform these re-entry navigators into our next generation of justice reform advocates and community leaders.”

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Communications Director, 213-359-0795 or rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov