National Leader in Juvenile Justice to Work in California Counties to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities

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The San Francisco-based W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) has been selected by five California counties to assist in reducing the racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice systems.

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We are happy to continue working in California to help ensure that youth of color are not undeservedly detained for minor offenses.

Today, the California Corrections Standards Authority announced the Probation Departments that it is awarding with continuing and new funds for work to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice systems. The San Francisco-based W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) has been selected by five California counties to assist in this work.

The BI has already been working with Santa Cruz County and Los Angeles County, which have both been selected to continue receiving funding from the state. In 2010, the BI will begin to work with San Francisco, Ventura and Marin counties, and potentially Orange, Fresno and Humboldt counties.

“We are happy to continue working in California to help ensure that youth of color are not undeservedly detained for minor offenses,” said James Bell, BI executive director and founder.

The announcement comes during an important time in juvenile justice disparities work. The Juvenile Justice And Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) is currently overdue for reauthorization, and was expected to go for mark-up yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has been delayed and is expected to go before the committee next week.

The JJDPA provides the major source of federal funding to improve States' juvenile justice systems, as shown by the way that California is utilizing its funds. It needs to be reauthorized and strengthened in order to ensure that states actually engage in work to address disparities in juvenile justice. A coalition the BI is working with on reauthorization is http://www.act4jj.org/ .

Before founding the BI, James was an attorney with the Youth Law Center in SF for 20 years, and decided to work instead to prevent youth of color from undeservedly ending up in the juvenile justice system. Today the BI has a network of 140 groups in 30 states.

Our executive director, James Bell, is available for interviews about this announcement and other issues related to juvenile justice. He is a national leader in reducing disparities.

The W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) is a nonprofit organization that works on the ground in more than 40 counties and has seen its methods result in significant local reductions in racial and ethnic disparities. For more information please visit the website: http://www.burnsinstitute.org .

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Shadi Rahimi
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