2023 Impact Report

The Road to Youth & Transformative Justice

End Youth Incarceration As We Know It.


Thanks to the impactful efforts of our grantee partners, the youth justice system in LA County—the largest system in the nation—has achieved a remarkable reduction at a record pace.

By channeling resources away from punitive systems and toward community-based solutions for youth development, we have successfully redirected millions of dollars.

Additionally, sustained advocacy from our partners has led to the passage of more than 30 significant policy measures, contributing to a remarkable 65% reduction in the size of the justice system. Despite these achievements, our commitment to building the nation’s largest youth development system remains an ongoing journey.

Youth continue to be housed in dangerous conditions in failing youth prisons, the Department of Youth Development needs full funding to fulfill the mission of reimagining youth justice in Los Angeles, and girls and gender-expansive youth face their own unique challenges in the justice system—overcoming physical and sexual abuse and navigating the foster care to prison pipeline.

But, thanks to our partners on the frontlines, the current landscape of youth justice and youth development in Los Angeles County is undergoing significant transformation.

The Youth Justice Reimagined initiative is addressing the underlying factors contributing to youth system involvement by focusing on innovative policies and programs designed to prioritize rehabilitation, support, and early intervention over punitive measures.

The potent mixture of people power and flexible funding have proven to be an unbeatable combination. After two years of defending intense legal challenges from law enforcement interests over the landmark LA County 2020 Measure J ballot initiative—which earmarked a substantial portion of the county budget for community investments such as youth development programs, supportive housing services and alternatives to incarceration—an appellate court ruled in favor of the measure’s constitutionality.

This battle, funded by a grant from Liberty Hill, was not just a legal victory, but a significant shift in power and a validation of communities’ right to shape their own future.

This victory was the result of years of collaborative efforts from several partner organizations, including the Youth Justice Coalition, Dignity and Power Now, La Defensa, Los Angeles Youth Uprising Coalition and Children’s Defense Fund – California (CDF-CA), all of which have been actively involved in advocating for alternatives to youth incarceration and policies that prioritize the well-being of youth and families

LA County is facing numerous intersecting crises that could be addressed if the County keeps its commitment to fully investing in care-first programs and organizations, rather than in law enforcement bloat. Investments in punitive and ineffective law enforcement departments cannot resolve this crisis—LA County must invest in care.
Megan Castillo
Coalition Coordinator, Re-Imagine LA Coalition, and Manager for Policy and Advocacy at La Defensa