Letters to the editor

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday May 19, 2021
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Letters to the editor

Hollendoner was engaged

I wanted to respond to the recent editorial on outgoing San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Joe Hollendoner ["So long, Joe Hollendoner," Editorial, May 13]. In my experience, Hollendoner was incredibly engaged with the community and advanced the work of SFAF in many critical ways, including increased HIV prevention services, harm reduction services, HIV & aging services, and in essential public policy work, often behind the scenes but absolutely essential. Too often I fear that we tear down leaders in the LGBT and HIV community. Like many, I was saddened to learn of the layoffs at SFAF and I am sure that Hollendoner would have preferred to leave SFAF on a brighter note, but we should focus on his solid leadership and his many accomplishments. San Francisco is better for Hollendoner's service here.

Bill Hirsh, Executive Director

AIDS Legal Referral Panel

San Francisco

Saddened at Supreme Court ruling

We at Huckleberry Youth Programs are saddened by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent 6-3 decision to reject limits on life terms for youth. This decision marks the first time in almost two decades the high court has deviated from rules establishing more leniency for juvenile offenders, even those convicted of murder. The U.S. is the only nation that sentences people to life without parole for crimes committed before turning 18.

Research shows a child's brain does not fully develop until age 25. Adolescence is a difficult time for youth, particularly low-income youth of color, who face systemic barriers making these years more challenging.

Also, youth of color are disproportionately sentenced to life without parole. Nationally, Black youth are sentenced at a rate 10 times greater than white youth, and are 22.5 times more likely to receive a life without parole in California. Biology and social justice demand that California prohibit life without parole for youths under 18, especially when there is a better solution available.

Huckleberry's Community Assessment and Resource Center is a San Francisco program for youth, ages 11-17, who are arrested for misdemeanors or certain felonies. CARC provides positive youth development and access to mental health services. It helps youth avoid detention and a future life of crime. Thirty percent of all arrested youth in San Francisco are served by CARC and 72% of those young people are not rearrested within one year of the program. Seventy percent of CARC's clients are youth of color, 67% are boys.

California is in the process of closing its juvenile detention centers and preparing counties to take on young people convicted of crimes in a way that protects the community while preparing youth for life outside of prison. Huckleberry's CARC is a model for other jurisdictions to follow, and a superior alternative to the costs of life in prison without parole.

Douglas Styles, PsyD., Executive Director

Rose Bentley, Board President

Huckleberry Youth Programs

San Francisco

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