The Santa Cruz County Task Force on Justice and Public Safety is a coalition representing eight different community groups, along with parents and individuals that have gone through the juvenile justice system. The Task Force works closely with the Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism (SCCCCOR), an organization that comprises four coalitions with a total of approximately four hundred members from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The Task Force is working to develop a collaborative effort to create a more equitable and just juvenile justice system by dealing with racial disparities.
Community involvement in reforming the Santa Cruz juvenile justice system has had a long history. In the late 1990’s, the Santa Cruz Probation Department and other system stakeholders came together in alliance with the Latino community that emerged from the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) to address the racial and ethnic disparities in Santa Cruz County. These efforts led to an overall reduction in numbers of incarcerated youth, an improvement in the conditions of confinement, and an increase in alternatives to detention and incarceration.
Since the initial years of JDAI work, the Santa Cruz Probation Department has been the only system stakeholder in the system to continue to push for the reduction of racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile detention. We feel it is important to uphold and protect the reforms that have been made over the years which have been proven effective, such as the need for more arrest diversion programs and alternatives to detention in Santa Cruz County. The community, however, is concerned because other stakeholders have not been at the table.
We care deeply about addressing these disparities, and there is still much work to do to ensure racial justice and public safety for Santa Cruz youth and families. The Task Force is committed to working collaboratively with juvenile justice system stakeholders. In order to better function as a coalition, it is essential for us to create an environment of transparency, trust, and collaborative decision making.
We are inviting you to join community members and other stakeholders in creating this collaborative effort to address inequities within our juvenile justice system. Members of the Task Force will be contacting you in the coming year to arrange a meeting and learn more about your department.
We look forward to meeting with you soon,
The Santa Cruz County Task Force on Justice and Public Safety