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Statewide Crusade: Keep CA Kids Out of Prison

March 2, 2009

Too many California kids are born to go to jail. Odds are one in six that a Latino male born in 2001 will end up in the prison system, and one in three for black males born that year, according to the Children's Defense Fund(CDF). Evan Holland with CDF says experts from across the country gathered in Sacramento to kick off a statewide campaign to keep at-risk kids out of what they call the "cradle-to-prison pipeline."

"We want to get these leaders thinking about what real solutions need to be happening in the communities to really alleviate poverty, to make sure young people have access to health care, and to keep them out of the pipeline to prison."

Some two-hundred young adults also participated in the summit. Holland says they shared their personal experiences and what interventions helped change their lives.

"What they have been doing is informing the leaders in these various fields of what they think the solutions need to be in order to dismantle the pipeline"

CDF chose to meet in California because the state has the largest prison system in the U.S., incarcerating more than one of every nine prisoners in America. Holland says the state spends four times as much per California prisoner as per public school student. Advocates say efforts need to focus on early intervention and prevention, rather than punishment.

More information is at www.childrensdefense.org

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA