Youth organizers to stage anti-juvenile incarceration town hall – CBS Bay Area


OAKLAND – Youth organizers will call on Alameda County leaders Wednesday to end youth incarceration in the county, according to the Free Our Kids Coalition, which opposes a new county juvenile camp.

The youth-led event starts at 3 p.m. at the California Ballroom at 1736 Franklin St. and is open the public.

Youth organizers want county leaders to instead invest in caring and other forms of rehabilitation for youth, such as mental health care and diversion programs, which they said are successful at changing the lives of youth for the better.

“What does a young person need?” said Dieudonne Brou, a coordinator at Urban Peace Movement, which helps Oakland youth become leaders and is part of the Free Our Kids Coalition.

Brou said the county spends $800,000 a year to incarcerate each child in its custody and it hasn’t made the community safer.
County officials were not immediately available Tuesday to confirm that figure.

Ericson Amaya, a lead organizer with Oakland-based 67 Suenos, which promotes political education, activism and trauma healing, said it’s a big expense for a small population.

Brou asked why the county is not investing that money to provide housing or a college fund that would help stabilize children. Youth that encounter the justice system are more likely to end up in jail or in prison in the future, he said.

The first point in a 10-point plan by the youth said they want the county to move away from punishment as a way of rehabilitation. Punishment has led to a school-to-prison pipeline.

Like calls to defund the police, the second point in the plan calls for the county to divest from law enforcement, probation and juvenile halls and invest in healing, education and “positive youth development.”

The seventh point calls for defunding and demilitarizing police departments. Other points focus on youth needs such as healthy food and health care.

Incarceration adds to the trauma faced by youth, organizers said, and incarceration disproportionately affects Alameda County youth of color, according to data available from the Alameda County Probation Department.

Ninety-eight percent of incarcerated youth in the county are youth of color while 80 percent of detained youth or those on probation are Black or Hispanic, data show.

Wednesday’s town hall is part of a two-part series on ending youth incarceration.

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is invited. Price did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the youths’ proposal.

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