California has been in an ongoing struggle trying to figure out how to deal with overcrowding in prisons. The problems extend to the Division of Juvenile Justice, where the state’s most serious young offenders are held. For youth from Alameda County, being sent to one of the DJJ facilities is one of the worst alternatives. They’re spread out all over the state, which means it can be hard to keep family connections, and complaints of abuse and unsafe conditions have dogged the system for more than a decade.
In 2008, Reinaldi Gilder promised himself that he would never go back to jail. Since his release in December of that year, he’s not only managed to keep his word, he has also shown others that they can do the same.