In San Mateo County, we strive to understand the unique circumstances and social history of each juvenile in order to find the best disposition for him or her. As judges, we don’t make these decisions in a vacuum. We rely heavily on the information and recommendations provided to us by probation officers, attorneys for the minors, and the district attorney’s office. We also do our best to implement programs and services for youth that are based on evidence based practices. Through the exchange, we learned that Chinese judges are not always provided with the same types of resources and tools that we have here in the United States. Through the sharing of our best practices and programs, we hope that the delegation gained further insight into how future reform may be carried out in China.
— Judge Elizabeth Lee
Superior Court of San Mateo County
The honor of meeting the Chinese delegates was a career highlight for me. In my 29 years of public service, I have served as a police officer, police detective, police sergeant, hostage negotiator, juvenile hall officer, probation officer, and various command-level positions including now deputy chief.
I began my career 29 years ago (will be 30 this February), after serving four years in the military (USMC). I was interested in a career that supported and helped society, protected the community, and specifically that helped guide and direct at-risk youth towards a better life and future.
Almost 30 years later, these continue to be my goals and as I begin the twilight of that career, I can’t think of a better way to cap it than the opportunity to work with Dui Hua and the Chinese authorities in developing a juvenile justice system in their country. We have some things to offer them and after meeting and speaking with them over the course of their visit, I know we have some things we can learn from them.
On a human level, I found the delegates to be great people from a great culture, one that going forward we as a country and people need to engage with more on every level. The exchange will help lay the foundation for more dialogue and contribute significantly to improving the rights and treatment of children on both sides of the Pacific.
— Roy Brasil
Deputy Chief Probation Officer
San Mateo Probation Department
The San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department was once again appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the dialogue that ensued during this most recent visit from the Supreme People’s Court from the People’s Republic of China, where the key role probation officers play in the juvenile justice system was once again prominently featured. For it is precisely the role probation officers play that puts into real practice all of the important orders the judge puts into place that are designed to help rehabilitate youth and protect the public. Probation officers interpret the court’s orders into specific action steps that need to be taken by the youth. And conversely, probation officers relay evidence of youths’ compliance (or non-compliance) with the court’s orders, for the court’s further deliberation and pronouncements. Probation officers customize the orders of court according to the specific needs of each case and into a written plan … then engage the necessary support services within the youth’s neighborhood that can help the youth fulfill his/her promises to the court. Probation officers make the real difference in the United States’ juvenile justice system.
— William P. Siffermann
Chief Probation Officer
SF Juvenile Probation Department
I am continually energized by the interest and commitment of the judges from the China delegation, who have asked insightful questions designed to enhance their understanding of the US judicial and community corrections systems. As a member of the 2010 US delegation to China, I also recognize that there are elements of the Chinese culture and judicial practice that are of value to us here in the US. I am particularly impressed by the goals to rehabilitate and restore a youth as a responsible member of their family and the community. In the US, we have maintained that effective community supervision by a probation officer represents a critical extension of the judge into the neighborhoods where young people reside, designed to track compliance with judicial orders, provide linkages to community supports, and enhance public safety by holding youths accountable. The 2012 China-US delegation is one further indication of how our two nations can collaborate to share information that can lead to the development of laws, policies, and practices that benefit the well-being of people everywhere.
— Allen Nance
Assistant Chief Probation Officer
SF Juvenile Probation Department
We were very pleased to be involved in the project. Legal education is the foundation for building meaningful reform, and our panel discussion provided a forum for Chinese and US participants to engage in lively discussion on the current and future challenges faced by juvenile justice advocates.
— Keith J. Hand
Associate Professor of Law
UC Hastings College of the Law