Commonweal’s Juvenile Justice Program is dedicated to the establishment of laws, policies and programs that serve the juvenile justice goals of crime prevention, treatment and rehabilitation within a context of public protection. A good deal of our work is targeted to the state of California, and to the goal of building an adequate service network within the state for high-risk youth and their families.

We specialize in the development of laws, policies and programs for high-risk youth, using contacts with key policymakers, backed by research and expertise on the subject matter at hand. Our activities include:

  • Policymaker education. Commonweal meets frequently with key state and local government leaders to discuss and develop juvenile justice policies and budget priorities affecting at-risk children and their families.
  • Research and analysis. Commonweal provides research and analysis of juvenile justice laws, court decisions and reform initiatives. Within California, we have focused heavily on periodic analysis of the California state budget dedicated to youth corrections and crime prevention programs. We also produce digests of California juvenile justice legislation and post-session summaries of laws passed by the California Legislature.
  • Advocacy. Within limits applicable to nonprofit organizations, Commonweal has supported legislation in California creating new youth programs and has opposed legislation that promotes unnecessary incarceration or overcrowding in secure youth facilities.
  • Program development. Based on its experience in the design and funding of juvenile justice programs, Commonweal has provided expertise to policymakers seeking to implement new youth service and crime prevention programs. In 2000, for example, Commonweal was instrumental in the design and adoption of the Schiff-Cardenas Crime Prevention Act in California which provides $100 million each year to youth crime and prevention programs throughout the state.