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|Fresno, Tulare County, CA||November 2, 2004 Election|
By Juan ArambulaCandidate for Member of the State Assembly; District 31
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Our commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of troubled youths is a sound business decision, which will save the lives of many of our young people and millions of taxpayer dollars in the process.At a recent ceremony honoring the cadets who had completed the Elkhorn Boot Camp program and graduated from high school or received a GED, I got to thinking about the progress Fresno County has made in its efforts to combat juvenile delinquency.
We, as a community, must also help those youths who are willing to turn their lives around and avoid a life-long cycle of incarceration. Despite our State and County budget crisis, we must remain strong advocates for prevention, early intervention and after-care programs. Too often, during tough times, these programs are the first on the chopping block. Fresno County, however, remains committed to funding these vital services.
And, these efforts are beginning to pay off. Our County Boot Camp has the lowest recidivism rate in the entire nation. In addition, last year, Fresno County earned the highest grade statewide for its use of juvenile crime prevention funds. Our commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of troubled youths is a sound business decision, which will save the lives of many of our young people and millions of taxpayer dollars in the process.
Clearly, a lot of work is still needed. Most youths entering the juvenile justice system were in need of help before they got in trouble with the law. It is essential that we work together to keep troubled children from falling through the cracks and to keep little problems from escalating into big problems. Informed parents who are involved in their children's lives are the first line of defense against juvenile delinquency. Where that is absent or ineffective, we, as a community, parents, schools, counselors, law enforcement, and county staff, must work together to bridge the gap.
We must also have the resources in place so that when young people commit serious crimes, they are held accountable for their offenses through swift, consistent and appropriate punishment. Fresno County recently broke ground for its new Juvenile Justice Campus at American Avenue and Freeway 99. I commend Chief Probation Officer Larry Price, County Administrative Officer Bart Bohn, and the many dedicated citizens and employees who are helping turn this vision into reality. I also commend my Board colleagues for their commitment to fund this new facility. The time had come to replace our aging, crowded and dilapidated Juvenile Hall with a new state-of-the-art facility.
When completed, this facility will have the capacity to house 480 juvenile offenders, together with needed services like school and vocational classrooms, medical and mental health facilities, and court facilities with space for all those departments involved in delinquency and dependency matters. These services, coupled with existing and planned after-care facilities including group homes, community based programs like the Boys and Girls Club, and day reporting centers for educational and counseling programs will offer the continuum of services needed to turn around as many young lives as possible.
While the foundation for the new Juvenile Justice Campus is being laid and the frame put into place, the County remains committed to providing a comprehensive system of prevention, intervention and aftercare programs. With this balanced approach, we will hold juveniles accountable for their actions, reduce overall delinquency, and improve the quality of life for all residents.
Position Paper 3
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