The California Endowment:
Youth Justice Policy Board

For the California Endowment, Commonweal staffed a Youth Justice Policy Board (YJPB) of distinguished California professionals and experts in the youth justice field. The Policy Board was active through mid 2014 when the supporting Endowment grant ended. Many of its members now serve on the Juvenile Justice Standing Committee of the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC). The Policy Board, while  active, conducted reviews of California youth justice issues, programs and policies and advised the Endowment on reform strategies.  Commonweal continues to work with the California Endowment and its grantees on a revised set of youth justice objectives focused in large part on the role of BSCC in funding and promoting developmentally-based youth crime prevention and intervention programs in California.

The Policy Board has adopted two action plans:

  • Leadership: addresses the need for central state leadership for juvenile justice program and policy development. The focus is on building the capacity of the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) as the state’s lead agency in this regard. This action plan is being implemented via a new Board of State and Community Corrections Juvenile Justice Standing Committee (JJSC Members List) on which eight members of the Youth Justice Policy Board now serve. 
  • Juvenile justice data and performance measures: supporting upgrades of California’s outmoded juvenile justice data systems, with the objective of improving system performance measures and raising the level and quality of juvenile justice information available to stakeholders, policymakers and the public. Currently, California’s Juvenile Justice Data Working Group, established by 2014 budget trailer legislation (AB 1468), is considering implementing many of the recommendations on data reform made by the Youth Justice Policy Board.

Health Happens Here: The Policy Board’s agenda is linked closely to the principles and objectives of the “Health Happens Here” policy framework of the Endowment, which includes these policy reform efforts:

  • School discipline: The Endowment has supported a collaborative effort to change school discipline policies that result in the needless suspension and expulsion of pupils who are predominantly youth of color. In 2012, this effort led to the adoption of a legislative package that revised suspension and expulsion procedures in California.
  • Trauma informed care: Traumatic events in children’s lives have an adverse impact on their personal, social and educational success. Endowment grantees have collaborated to disseminate research and to train justice and school personnel on trauma-informed and trauma-responsive approaches.
  • Equal justice: Under the Endowment’s Boys and Men of Color (BMOC) initiative (and more recently, the Sons and Brothers collaborative), grantee organizations are taking action to implement justice system and community safety reforms to reduce disproportionate incarceration and to support positive outcomes for justice-involved youth of color.