The vote to close down juvenile hall was a historic moment in juvenile justice reform. I am excited and proud to be part of the movement to re-envision this system.
These institutions are not rehabilitative. The racial disparities are stark, and the confines of juvenile halls have a harmful effect on youth’s mental and physical health as well as their educational outcomes, not only in San Francisco but throughout the nation.
San Francisco has always prided itself on being at the forefront of reform and innovation. In the wake of the hall’s closing, we will utilize our experienced brain trust of experts and leaders to ensure a new and better system. It’s time to recognize the developmental immaturity of youth and guide them to become successful and contributing members of our communities.
We know that locking up youth is a harmful practice that exacerbates symptoms of anxiety, stress, trauma, and mental health disabilities that our clients often suffer from. It is well documented that with each day of lock-up, the likelihood of recidivism increases for youth.
By closing juvenile hall, we have the opportunity to promote positive youth development while also providing for public safety.
Thank you, San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
–Patricia Lee, Juvenile Unit Manager, San Francisco Public Defender’s Office