State Submits Plan To Reform California Youth Authority, Including Some Health Services
State officials on Tuesday submitted a 22-page legal agreement to an Alameda County judge that "acknowledges broad failures of the California Youth Authority and lays the groundwork for sweeping reforms," including the improvement of mental health care and rehabilitation programs, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Gladstone/Bailey, San Jose Mercury News, 11/17).
The agreement, which must be approved by a federal judge, marks the settlement of a lawsuit filed in federal court in 2002 that challenged the conditions in the state's youth prisons (Warren, Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
A "series of devastating reports" released earlier this year identified six areas -- including mental health, medical care and substance abuse treatment -- in which state officials must make changes, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Thompson, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/16).
The settlement requires the state to develop plans to improve "virtually every aspect of the CYA's operations by January," according to the Times. No cost estimate for the reforms has been released, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
According to the Mercury News, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has "placed his seal of approval" on the agreement (San Jose Mercury News, 11/17). In addition, a judge on Tuesday appointed San Francisco attorney Donna Brorby to oversee implementation of the reforms (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/16).
"The lawsuit said California should have done a better job with its young offenders, and it was right. ... We are on the right track now," Schwarzenegger said (Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
Summaries of editorials addressing CYA reform appear below.
- Los Angeles Times: Although the settlement "uses all the right words" and does an "excellent job of pointing out problems ... and urging that they be fixed," the agreement is "as light on specifics as it is heavy on rhetoric," and what "California really needs is concrete, public accountability measures," the editorial states (Los Angeles Times, 11/17).
- San Jose Mercury News: The settlement gives "hope" to California's youth prison system, and the "potential payoff for reform is huge: safer neighborhoods across the state and fewer young lives wasted," a Mercury News editorial states (San Jose Mercury News, 11/17).