Peggy Townsend

Peggy Townsend is a journalist who lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Recent Articles

Detention Redemption

Santa Cruz County's juvenile hall sits on a pine- and oak-studded hillside across from a state park. It is a low-slung building made of concrete block with doors painted a bilious shade of green. From outside, it hardly looks like a national model for juvenile-justice reform. But inside, empty cells stand as testament to what has happened over the last eight years. Instead of locking young criminals behind bars, this mostly liberal seaside community has bucked the national trend and is sending all but the worst offenders into alternative corrections programs. Led by a band of reformers and embraced by a community that was one of the few in California to vote against a get-tough-on-crime initiative in 2000, the county is keeping kids at home, supervising them closely, and enrolling them in community-based programs that provide drug counseling and job training. Data is assembled to see who is coming into the system and why they are there, and the time it takes to get a youngster into a...