By Clarissa Rios and Yasmin Homan
SACRAMENTO, CA – California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Juvenile Justice Diversion bill (SB 383) into law Wednesday at the State Capitol here to help facilitate programs for youth.
The bill, authored by Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley), is designed, said Cortese, to alter the focal point of the justice system from incarceration to rehabilitation.
According to Senator Cortese, many barriers exist that limit diversion services.
Through SB 383, many of those barriers will now be removed, the lawmaker said, adding, “Every child deserves the opportunity to attain rehabilitation as an alternative to prolonged incarceration.”
California Judges Association President Judge Tom Delaney is a sponsor of the measure, calling it important because it “follows the science of adolescent brain development and grants additional judicial discretion for youth who commits a first time, non-violent offense.”
The author notes multiple peer-reviewed articles state that to decrease recidivism, it is more adequate to focus on diversion rather than common judicial interventions.
In addition, the courts tend to consistently deny “youth of color early diversion opportunities” – a report from the Brennan Center of Justice in 2020 states that the participation of the justice system leads the way to “profoundly unequal treatment” and “long-term economic disparity.”
For those youth who commit a crime outside their county of residence, the bill will work to remove procedural barriers that restrict diversion services for them.