New Approaches to Youth Justice: Breaking the School-to-Prison Pipeline

COST: [Free]
Organizer: League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara
Posted by:LeaguePR

Join the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara (LWVSB) together with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) on May 18 at noon for an interactive discussion about positive changes occurring in Santa Barbara County schools, public safety agencies, and with non-profit providers.

  • Our juvenile justice system is transitioning from punitive to therapeutic and rehabilitative approaches
  • California is closing its few remaining youth prisons and turning over responsibility to local public safety agencies to work with youth
  • In 2021, Santa Barbara Unified School District ended contracts with the Sheriff’s department to have officers at schools and raised funds to instead place more mental health counselors in schools


Holly Benton, Deputy Chief Probation Officer, Santa Barbara County Probation Department

JP Herrada, Program Director, Co-founder, Santa Barbara Alternatives to Violence Project (SBAVP). A previously incarcerated individual and father of three, he has been mentoring at-risk youth and working with justice impacted families for 13 years.

Juan Higuera, Deputy Public Defender, Santa Barbara County (currently assigned to the Juvenile Unit)

Judie Lugo, Executive Director, Santa Barbara Police Activities League. PAL provides teens with holistic programs from academic support to enrichment programs including fitness classes, environmental education, along with social-emotional and mental wellness referral support.

Eric Rodriguez, Education Assistant, The Freedom to Choose Project in prisons throughout California. Beginning at age 12, he was in and out of juvenile hall, camps and treatment programs before being sent to county jails and eventually sentenced to 15 years to life in prison plus 10 years. The Freedom to Choose Project played a key role in his transformation while in prison and led to his helping create their Pathways to Freedom Self-Directed Learning Program during the pandemic when their in-person programs could not reach people incarcerated.  He now trains volunteers for that program and hopes to bring the program to Santa Barbara County jails and justice- impacted youth.

Frann Wageneck, Assistant Superintendent, Student Services, Santa Barbara Unified School District

The panel will be moderated by La Mer Kyle-Griffiths, Assistant Public Defender, County of Santa Barbara. She also teaches Trial Advocacy, and has trained administrative professionals, attorneys, and law students in areas of implicit bias, litigation, sentencing, juvenile practice, and forensics.

Spanish translation will be available, this event also will be live streamed on the LWVSB Facebook page, and recordings in both English and Spanish will be posted on the LWVSB website.

To attend this virtual Community Forum, register at

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