Thursday, June 1, 2017
Grand jury: San Diego County's Juvenile Hall in 'desperate' need of repairs
After inspecting San Diego County’s juvenile detention facilities, the county grand jury found that two of them are in need of major repairs and that the newest is significantly underused.
The grand jury members toured the buildings in October and November, making inquiries into their condition and management, according to a report released Tuesday.
Jurors found the Kearny Mesa Detention Facility, commonly referred to as Juvenile Hall, was “desperately” in need of remodeling and repairs in the areas it observed. The facility, which houses boys and young men ranging from age 12 to 21, was built in 1954.
An expansion was built in 2002 called the Girls Rehabilitation Facility.
“The Grand Jury noted unpleasant odors in many areas, and most of the buildings have an institutional appearance,” the report said. “Living areas observed by the Grand Jury for offenders in (Kearny Mesa) were cell-like, containing a small desk with no drawers, a chair, and a bed consisting of a thin mattress atop a concrete block.”
These conditions, along with the common bathrooms, outdoor recreational features and unappetizing lunches, “gave the appearance of punishment rather than rehabilitation,” the report said.
Rehabilitation is supposed to be the primary purpose of the juvenile justice system, as opposed to the adult system.
The county Probation Department runs the juvenile detention facilities.
Camp Barrett in Alpine also needs major repairs to its offices, classrooms and dormitories, according to the report. The facility houses boys ages 13 to 18.
The East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility is the county’s newest, built in 2004, and it remains in “excellent” condition, the report said, but only a third of it was being used when jurors visited it.
Among other recommendations, the grand jury suggested creating a long-range plan to consolidate and reduce wasted space.
Chief Probation Officer Adolfo Gonzales said the findings in the report did not surprise him, and the county is working toward repairing and eventually rebuilding Juvenile Hall in Kearny Mesa.
Plans for those improvements, including moving services from Camp Barrett to Kearny Mesa, remain in the preliminary stages, he said.
May 30, 2017
San Diego Union-Tribune
By Dana Littlefield