SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - It's an issue that San Francisco has been wrestling with for weeks and now the idea of eliminating juvenile hall is gaining momentum. The measure introduced Tuesday would close juvenile hall by the end of 2021.
Supporters say juvenile hall is a broken system. But, opponents are saying fix what we have now instead of simply getting rid of it.
More than a hundred gathered on the steps of San Francisco City Hall supporting the idea of shutting down the city's juvenile hall.
20-year-old Fernando Madrigal says he wants to see the juvenile justice center shut down based on personal experience having served time there as a youth offender. He now works to keep kids on the right track.
"Did juvenile hall help me at all? No, and it doesn't help nobody," said Madrigal. "I deal with multiple youth with the work I do and it doesn't help nobody, everyone says the same thing."
The legislation to eliminate San Francisco's juvenile hall by December 2021 was authored by Supervisor Shamann Walton.
"There is no way in hell that we would put in a situation worse than juvenile hall," said Walton. "What we are talking about here is an alternative to the current juvenile hall and lock up situation."
In all, six supervisors have already signed on to the idea. Agreeing that the city's youth crime rate has dropped considerably; at this point the supervisors say there are only about 30 youth at the facility. A facility that had a $13.3 million dollar budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Supporters also say juvenile hall is hopelessly biased, incarcerating children of color at disproportionately high rates. The idea getting support from both sides of the criminal justice system.
"Young people do not well when they are caged, and our public safety improves actually when we are redeeming in the way we work with people and we rehabilitate them," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
"It is super exciting for us to see this finally happen. It means that we are imagining and committing ourselves to a different approach, a more humane and holistic approach," said Matt Gonzalez from the San Francisco Defenders Office.
But support for eliminating juvenile hall is far from unanimous. Former supervisor Reverend Amos Brown from Third Baptist Church agrees juvenile hall is troubled. He says it should be fixed, not eliminated.
"I think that we need to chill, have scheduled hearings and not have any sweeping measures adopted here today," said Rev. Brown.
The board of supervisors is expected to vote on whether or not to shut down juvenile hall within the next 30 days.