In far too many places across California, juvenile probation has become a knee-jerk reaction to young people who are simply having trouble in school or at home but who haven’t been accused of a crime. Criminalizing adolescent behavior and placing young people on probation means young people are forced to sign away their rights to privacy and due process and to submit to surprise searches, unannounced home visits, restrictions on who they can speak to, and invasive interrogations about their private lives. In Riverside County alone, over 3,000 young people were placed on probation between 2005-2016 for behavior like being late to class, having poor attendance, and being “easily persuaded by peers.” Black and Latinx students were disproportionately referred to probation for this normal adolescent behavior.
It’s time we stop systematically treating young people, especially young people of color, young people with disabilities, and LGBTQ youth, like lost causes. AB 901 will make sure youth are instead referred to community programs to provide them with the tools, resources, and support they need to succeed. It’s time to pass AB 901 and set up California’s young people for real success.
Sponsors: Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, ACLU of California, East Bay Community Law Center, Haywood Burns Institute, Sigma Beta Xi, Youth Justice Coalition.