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Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act

Weak Oversight Has Hindered Its Meaningful Implementation

Report Number: 2019-116

May 12, 2020

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

As directed by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, my office conducted an audit to evaluate five counties’ spending and reporting of the funds they each received pursuant to the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA). In addition, JLAC requested my office to assess each county’s decision-making processes and evaluations of programs supported with those funds. We reviewed Kern, Los Angeles, Mendocino, San Joaquin, and Santa Barbara counties and determined that county and state oversight of the JJCPA is weak, counties misreported or failed to include information in the reports that they submitted to the State, and the Legislature should stabilize the amount of JJCPA funding provided to counties.

Regarding planning, the JJCPA requires that each county take a multiagency approach to reducing juvenile crime and delinquency. To achieve such an approach, each county should establish its own Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (Coordinating Council) with responsibility for developing and approving the county’s comprehensive multiagency juvenile justice plan (comprehensive plan). However, we found that Mendocino and as many as 10 other counties within the State did not have Coordinating Councils. Of the four other counties we reviewed, Kern and Los Angeles had councils, but those councils did not always have the required representatives. Furthermore, those counties with Coordinating Councils made only limited revisions to their comprehensive plans during the last 20 years, despite significant changes to juvenile justice during the same period.

We also found that the Board of State and Community Corrections (Community Corrections) could improve its oversight of the JJCPA. Specifically, Community Corrections’ review of plans and reports that the counties submit could address many of the shortcomings we identified. Although state law does not explicitly require it to oversee the JJCPA, the law does require Community Corrections to collect and post the comprehensive plans and year-end reports counties submit. However, we found that some counties misreported information about their JJCPA-funded programs or failed to include required information in the reports they submitted to Community Corrections. Without adequate oversight of counties’ submissions, Community Corrections risks reporting inaccurate information to key stakeholders about counties’ use of JJCPA funds.

Finally, the five counties we reviewed generally expressed concerns about an increasing amount of unguaranteed JJCPA funds. One of the two allocations that counties receive to fund the JJCPA can change from year to year. This fluctuation results in counties' inabilities to anticipate their total JJCPA funding; therefore, we believe that the Legislature should increase predictability by acting to stabilize the amount of JJCPA funding the State allocates to counties.

Respectfully submitted,

California State Auditor