Back in 2014, voters in California strongly supported a ballot measure that hoped to siphon away funds earmarked for incarceration and invest them in community-based approaches to prevention instead.
Prop. 47 downgraded some nonviolent drug and property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and allowed the state to channel the cost savings into programs for mental health, job training, substance use disorder treatment, housing support and truancy prevention.
Today the Board of State and Community Corrections announced that it has allocated $103 million to 23 awardees across the state. The goal is to invest savings realized by reduced incarceration into programs that are aimed at preventing entry into the criminal justice system and reduce recidivism.
Though most of the Prop. 47 money is aimed at adults, several grantees will use funding to work with youth.
- In far-north California, Tehama County received $1 million to fund its youth diversion program. Based in Corning, Calif., the initiative will link mental health and substance use disorder resources to youth in a diversion program modeled on an effort in Michigan. Now in its first year, Tehama County’s diversion program will also use case management to steer youth and families toward housing, education and employment services.
- In El Rancho Unified School District, located in the eastern part of Los Angeles County, nearly a million dollars will go toward expanding investments in existing restorative justice and diversion programs aimed at juveniles and young adults up to age 22. Youth will be referred through the Los Angeles County Probation Department, the juvenile courts or Teen Court. The program also includes opportunities to provide housing assistance through rapid re-housing and supportive housing programs.
- The Merced County Probation Department will use nearly $961,000 to provide community-based, culturally competent mental health and substance use disorder treatment for youth and young adults in Los Banos. The program will use the evidence-based El Joven Noble program at schools in the area, as well as in the county’s juvenile justice correctional complex. The money will also go toward providing cognitive behavioral therapy for some youth, and probation officers and those who come into contact with system-involved youth will receive supplemental trainings in trauma-informed practices. Finally, Merced County will create a Youth and Family Safety Hub in Los Banos to provide services for youth and transition-age adults up to the age of 24.
- In Oceanside Unified School District in north San Diego County, almost $1 million in Prop. 47 grant funds will be used to support youth diversion programs as well as linkages to services like mental health, substance use disorder treatment, housing assistance legal consultation and job training. Diversion programs will be offered by community-based organization Lifeline will provide diversion programs, including a program to prevent youth from entering or re-entering the juvenile justice system, the provision of alternatives to detention for low-risk juvenile offenders and interventions aimed at youth who are already involved in the justice system.
- Located in Rialto, Calif., in San Bernardino County, the Training, Education, Alcohol/Drug, Mental Health Treatment (T.E.A.M.) project will offer wraparound services targeted at youth between the ages of 14 and 17 who have a history of mental health issues or a substance use disorder. The money will be used by 65 youth who are on probation or who have been arrested, charged with or convicted of a misdemeanor criminal offense.