Our Role

For over 30 years Commonweal has been dedicated to juvenile justice reform in California—with a strong focus on “deep end” reform of the state youth corrections system. We combine research, inter-agency collaboration, and direct advocacy to promote program development and system change. Our work is facilitated by strong contacts with key policymakers and professionals in the field at all government levels.

Currently, Program Director David Steinhart serves on the state’s oversight agency for realignment, the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), where he chairs a Juvenile Justice Standing Committee that is working to improve data systems, performance measures, funding criteria, best practices and other components of California’s realigned juvenile justice system.

Some Commonweal milestones include:

  • 1982-90: Published four books critiquing the California Youth Authority and offering a reform agenda
  • 1988-2011: Testified in multiple legislative hearings and panels in support of commitment limits and changes in CYA sentencing and release law
  • 2000: Co-drafted and promoted the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) which supplies counties with more than $100 million per year for local juvenile justice programs
  • 2003: Supported SB 459 revisions to CYA sentencing and release law
  • 2007: Served as key architects of SB 81 and the Youthful Offender Block Grant program (California’s landmark juvenile justice realignment law).
  • 2009: Drafted “accountability” amendments to track realignment spending and outcomes at the local level
  • 2012 – present: David Steinhart Chairs the state’s Juvenile Justice Standing Committee, as Senate appointee to the Board of State and Community Corrections.