Calif. Incarcerated Teens Kept in Cages
New reports to be released this week show how dire the situation is in California's youth prisons:
Reports to be released this week offer a chilling look into how the state handles incarcerated kids, depicting the California Youth Authority as operating violence-plagued institutions where some wards are kept in cages or forced to spend hours on their knees with their hands bound behind their backs.
Teens with mental health problems are made worse, not better, by a system that is failing in its mandate to rehabilitate kids who commit crimes, according to the reports by independent experts. The reports suggest the state is running a system that provides little help for young offenders who want to change their ways, prison watchdogs say.
"Instead of rehabilitating and treating kids, they're pushing them out the door in worse shape than when they came in,'' said Don Spector, director of the Prison Law Office. "It's like a factory for prisons.''
Experts who studied the miserable lives of juvenile inmates in the charge of the California Youth Authority released reports this week showing a system in worse shape than most outsiders could have imagined. The state subjects its charges to the harshest punishments of any juvenile detention system nationwide, leaving teenagers confined in steel-mesh cages when guards aren't prying them from their cells with mace and tear gas.
There is a 90% recidivist rate among juveniles, the highest in the country. There is a failure to provide oversight and rehabilitation programs.
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