California: Youth in State Care Deserve Internet Access

Update: On Oct. 11, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed A.B. 811, but said he would order the state Department of Juvenile Justice to develop a plan to provide Internet access in juvenile facilities. He also said he would support a revised bill in 2018. 

When the state is charged with caring for children, it is incumbent on officials to ensure that youth are provided with the tools they need to grow and live full lives. In 2017, this means access to computers and the Internet.

Please tell Gov. Jerry Brown to sign A.B. 811 into law to establish that access to the Internet is a legal right for juvenile detainees and youth in foster care.

The legislation, introduced by Assemblymember Mike Gipson, would benefit more than 56,000 youth in foster care and 23,000 youth in secure facilities.

It would require county juvenile halls to provide supervised access to computers and the Internet for educational purposes. The state’s juvenile facilities would additionally allows for youth to stay in touch with their families through computers. Detention officials would still have the ability to restrict Internet access on a case-by-case basis to address legitimate safety concerns. Kids in foster care would further receive reasonable access to the Internet for social and extracurricular activities.

If our society is already able to arrange for astronauts to use social media from the International Space Station, there is no question that California can make sure online computer resources are available to youth in state custody.

Send an email to Gov. Brown today, urging his signature on A.B. 811. California should lead the country in leveraging new technologies to enhance the lives and prospects of this vulnerable youth population.

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