Heller de Leon, Brian


Brian Heller de Leon is the Policy and Government Outreach Coordinator for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. He has a background in community organizing, police-community relations, and the implementation of national best-practice strategies for youth and gang violence reduction.

High Cost, Low Return of Longer Prison Term

By Brian Heller de Leon
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that the length of time served in prison has increased nationally by 36% since 1990. This has translated into an average of nine additional months of incarceration per prisoner. This results in extra costs to states totaling more than $10.4 billion per year. The study found that over half of those additional costs were spent on non-violent offenders who posed minimal risks to public safety. Nationally, states spend over $51 billion each year on incarceration.

The nation is in a state of mass incarceration with the average national prison population spiking more than 700% between 1972 and 2011. Further, in 2008 the combined federal-state- local inmate count reached 2.3 million, or one in 100 adults. This increased reliance on incarceration is not entirely reflective of offender behavior.

A Call for Shared Sacrifice on Juvenile Corrections Budget

By Brian Heller de Leon
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

The Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees on Public Safety are being pressured to reconsider the Governor’s revised cost-saving proposal for the state’s youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities (commonly referred to as DJJ). Law enforcement agencies are demanding that the Legislature reduce or eliminate the new $24,000 per ward fee structure, which was proposed by the Governor’s office in the May revised budget.  

This amount greatly contributes to the $24.8 million in cost savings that the proposed budget targets for the state’s youth prison system.  The figure already represents a significant reduction from the Governor’s January 2012-13 juvenile justice realignment proposal, which would have amounted to approximately $200 million in savings to the state over time.

Misconceptions About High-Risk Youth Offenders

By Brian Heller de Leon
Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice

The High Desert Daily Press featured a three-part story last week exploring how San Bernardino County prosecutes, supervises, and rehabilitates their juvenile offenders. Daily Press reporter Beatriz E. Valenzuela looked at patterns of juvenile crime and arrest reductions, the unbridled powers of local district attorneys to “direct file” juveniles into adult court, and the impact of adult realignment and Governor Brown’s juvenile realignment plan on local corrections systems.  

Study: Long-Term Juvenile Incarceration Fails to Decrease Reoffending Rates

By Brian Heller de Leon
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

A March 2011 study through the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) concludes that long-term juvenile incarceration does not decrease reoffending, and may actually increase recidivism rates for lower-level youth offenders.  Researchers conducted more than 21,000 interviews over 8 years with more than 1,300 felony offenders ages 14–18 in the cities of Philadelphia and Phoenix. Researchers also interviewed parents and peers and examined arrest records.

Their findings and recommendations are very illuminating, especially in light of California’s current debate over the future of the Division of Juvenile Facilities, the state’s youth correctional facilities: