L.A. County is learning that putting kids in jail does not work

To the editor: Currently, Los Angeles County arrests and incarcerates more youth than anywhere else in the nation. The proposal on the table to transform how the county tackles youth justice is an important step that gives young residents a fair chance to lead productive lives. (“Want a better juvenile justice system? Keep kids out of it in the first place,” editorial, Nov. 3)

It also has the opportunity to influence how a nation thinks about youth incarceration. Putting young people in the criminal justice system does not work. It fails to address the root causes of why kids get into trouble in the first place — poverty, exposure to violence and a lack of social support.

Opting for restorative justice and second chances not only saves vast amounts of money, it improves public safety. It’s smart policy and it’s a moral imperative.

We need our young people — all of them. The county is wise to push for a greater focus on prevention over punishment for our youth.

Julio Marcial, Los Angeles

The writer is director of youth justice at the Liberty Hill Foundation.

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