A decade ago, there were 10,000 juveniles in prison in California, Slater says. Now, there are about 700, spread out among four facilities. The system has undergone some serious reform since then, and Chad is not as bad as it used to be. The inmates get “positive checks,” instead of only being reprimanded for bad behavior, and there is an “incentive locker” filled with snacks as a reward for good behavior. If an inmate is well behaved for long enough, they earn time in the “incentive room,” and are allowed DirecTV and video games.
The reform of California’s juvenile justice system reflects a positive shift away from focusing only on bad behavior and punishment. By focusing on an inmate’s positive behavior, their chances for meaningful rehabilitation increase, especially when they are motivated by incentives and reward systems.