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Child Advocates Release 2016 Policy Agenda

Stock/Capital Public Radio
 

Stock/Capital Public Radio

A group that advocates for kids in California is urging state lawmakers to approve a package of bills intended to end child poverty and transform the juvenile justice system.

One of the bills would end the criminalization of transit fare evasion.

"It is the most cited infraction for young people under the age of 18," says Alex Johnson who heads the Children's Defense Fund, or CDF, in California. He says a lot of those kids who don't pay bus or light rail fares are just trying to get to school.

Johnson says too many kids in California, especially poor kids and children of color, face odds stacked against them. That includes the justice system.

"We need to end solitary confinement in juvenile justice facilities across this state, once and for all," says Johnson.

A bill co-sponsored by the CDF would strictly limit the use of solitary confinement for youth. Critics say it would hamper prisons which often need to separate disruptive inmates.

The CDF is also backing legislation to waive fees for state-funded after school programs and raise the minimum wage to $13 an hour. The bills are part of the CDF's 2016 Policy Agenda.