Guayakí Supports Criminal Justice Reform in Los Angeles County

Seeking to foster societal change through targeted advocacy and partnerships

Guayakí Yerba Mate Co. is part of a coalition of businesses, non-profits, tribal community leaders, and academia who recently gathered to fight for an end to Los Angeles County’s ineffective youth justice system. The County has been home to the largest youth incarceration system in the country, and change has been needed for a long time. Alongside advocates on the ground, a group of leaders including Guayakí Yerba Mate Co. signed a letter to the LA County Board of Supervisors calling for an end to this system in a radical way.

“As calls to stop systemic racism are heard throughout the nation, Los Angeles County is on the cusp of replacing a youth justice system that is inherently harmful to low-income Black, Brown and Native American youth with a system that is equitable, transparent, centered on healing, and grounded in the community. Now is the time for Los Angeles County to shed its reputation of overseeing the largest youth incarceration system in the nation and instead be known for overseeing the largest youth development system in the nation.” For more.

In an historic moment in history, the Board of Supervisors voted in favor of dismantling the youth probation system in LA County and implementing a 5-year transition and creation of a new department called the “Department of Youth Development.”

After years of incremental reform, Los Angeles County is moving to dismantle the largest youth justice system in the country in favor of a “care-first” model that would look less like prison and would emphasize emotional support, counseling, and treatment.

The plan calls for children and young adults who have committed crimes to be served in home-like settings, and it includes youth centers and support teams operating 24/7 to establish relationships with young people who might otherwise be locked in facilities far from home.

While there are still many road bumps ahead, this is a significant moment for our country in our move towards building systems that heal not destroy. Additionally, the Los Angeles DA candidate that the coalition supported in word and in deed, George Gascon, was sworn into office. He immediately made sweeping reforms such as:

  1. Ending cash bail for misdemeanors & non-violent offenses
  2. Discontinue the use of the death penalty
  3. End convicting juveniles as adults
  4. End the use of the 3-strike sentencing law
  5. Retroactively end all enhancements disproportionally used against communities of color

As calls to stop systemic racism are heard throughout the nation, Guayakí seeks to foster societal change through targeted advocacy and partnerships. In addition, Guayakí’s G-THREE program recruits and hires formerly incarcerated employees, providing many deserving souls will have an opportunity to rebuild their lives.