How Counties Are Preparing for the End of Juvenile Jails

California must close its four juvenile prisons by June 2023 under a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020. Ahead of that deadline, counties across the state are reimagining juvenile justice and creating alternatives for in-custody youth.

KQED recently explored efforts to overhaul juvenile corrections in places like El Dorado, San Mateo and Fresno. The revamped facilities often look more like schools than juvenile lockups.

“These kids are barely in their rooms,” San Mateo County Probation Superintendent Jehan Clark told KQED. “They're in school all day. If they graduate or are not in school, they're doing some type of work. After school they have exercise, which we call our large muscle activity, and then they have dinner, shower, and then they're in programming.”

El Dorado’s current facility includes a “multisensory deescalation room” for calming down agitated youth. It still needs work. Down the line, the county plans to build an entirely new facility in Placerville.

Counties are getting help from this year’s state budget, which includes $100 million for changes to county facilities. 

Read more about how counties are preparing for the end of juvenile jails here.