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May 1, 2007 - The Ella Baker Center (CA)

Release: BIG Step Forward!

Books Not Bars Moves Closer To Closing CA Youth Prisons

Please Forward Widely

Sign On to Shut It Down!

We need to show Sacramento that we'll accept nothing less than closure. Can you take a minute to help us call on Sacramento to shut down CYA?

Help Close CYA. As you may know, Ella Baker Center's flagship campaign, Books Not Bars, has been working hard for more than three years to shut down California's notoriously abusive youth prisons.

Tuesday, we took a giant step towards that goal when the Assembly's Public Safety Committee approved our bill to do just that: close the youth prisons.

This is a MASSIVE leap forward for our campaign. The closure bill, introduced by Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Sally Lieber (D-San Jose) and co-sponsored by Books Not Bars, is now clear to go to the Appropriations Committee, then to the full Assembly floor.

Help our bill go the rest of the way: SIGN OUR PETITION!


This news was so big, we had to share it with everyone -- even our supporters who may not be very familiar with Books Not Bars. In case this is all new to you, I wanted to give you some background information.

California's Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is a statewide system of eight youth prisons. It is the most abusive, most expensive and least effective juvenile justice system in the nation. Young people there experience outrageous levels of violence, abuse, and neglect. They leave damaged and unprepared; 75% get rearrested within three just years after getting out. All this failure costs California $550 million every year -- more than $200,000 per youth, per year.

We know California can do better. When young people get in trouble, they need counselors, teachers and specialists - not dangerous prisons run by prison guards. Other states have made the change and seen a drop in both recidivism and cost. It is time for California to stop wasting money on a system that hurts young people and investing in one that helps them. It's the only way to save young people's lives and build true community safety.

Books Not Bars was telling the state to close these youth prisons years ago.

BIG THINGS COMING: Be a part of it!

With the closure bill and a bunch of other irons in the fire, we've spent a lot of time in Sacramento lately. In that time, we've noticed something: lawmakers are listening. And not just the "radicals." The Senate is talking about "full realignment" - a fancy way of saying "shut it down." The neutral, non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office confirmed what we've always said: young people do better when they're close to their families. Even Bernard Warner, head of DJJ, said that "local is better."

People in Sacramento are open to change, but they won't do it unless they hear from you. Please take a minute to sign the petition in support of our bill to close the youth prisons. Our bill has made it through the first big test; we need you to help carry it the rest of the way.


Many thanks,

Jakada Imani, Ella Baker Center

P.S. SAVE THE DATE! Books Not Bars is having a pre-Mother's Day action in Sacramento next Thursday, May 10. More details soon!

Ella Baker Center can't survive without the support of people like you. Please take a moment to support us today:

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