SACRAMENTO – The Most Rev. Richard Garcia, bishop of Monterey and the Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, bishop of Fresno, co-chairs of the Restorative Justice Committee of the California Catholic Conference, today issued the following statement on behalf of the California Catholic Conference, asking people to observe the month of March as “Juvenile Justice Month of Faith and Healing” and to encourage young people from throughout the state who will come to Sacramento on March 24 to support SB 124 (Leno), an act that would restrict the use of solitary confinement for juveniles in custody and which would empower and expand the use of regional juvenile justice commissions to regulate the use of solitary confinement in juvenile detention facilities.
“The purpose of California’s juvenile justice system is not to warehouse juvenile offenders until they can be turned over to the prison system, but to intervene and prevent young people from continuing in their downward spiral of crime and violence. Its goal must be rehabilitation and its efforts must be focused on helping young people and their families change the trajectory of their lives.
“We are proud to join with the Healing Justice Coalition and people of faith throughout California in bringing attention to California’s juvenile justice system, and reminding policymakers and the public that these young people in their care are often from broken homes and broken families. They have no experience with the praise, the love or the family support most of us take for granted. They are all our prodigal sons and daughters; we have a responsibility to embrace them and help bring them back into productive society.
“For that reason, we are pleased to support SB 124 by Sen. Mark Leno and so very proud of the Catholic school students and others from throughout California who will be coming to Sacramento on March 24 to lend their support to this important legislation. SB 124 would appropriately restrict the use of solitary confinement in juvenile justice facilities; more importantly, however, it would strengthen and expand regional juvenile justice commissions to reinvigorate community ties and make sure that young people in the system are not forgotten.
“All of us share in the love of Christ; let us never forget that His love knows no bounds.”