Inyo Supervisors discuss conversion for Juvenile Center

By Deb Murphy

Inyo County has been moving toward closing Juvenile Center as a 24/7 facility and using the cost savings to provide more services to more at-risk families. Probation and Health and Human Services will both be providing important elements to the plan that includes a Resource Center, a sort of one-stop shop for a broad range of services to both families and adults currently on probation.

The trend that initiated the idea of eliminating a 24/7 facility is a good thing: fewer kids are being remanded to the Center. The population, once in the teens, has dropped to three to six on any given day. The trend is not unique to Inyo County.

Another trend is early intervention to prevent or reduce juvenile issues. Start with young families by providing specific services.

Probation Chief Jeff Thomson brought the Board of Supervisors up to date Tuesday on the Juvenile Center’s conversion to a Special Purpose facility. H&HS will hold an update on their plan to provide additional services and programs from a Resource Center sometime in late May. While the Board has not voted on the overall approach, the hypothetical deadline to close Juvenile Hall is July 1, the beginning of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The focus of the change will be converting Juvenile Hall to a week-end facility for adjudicated youth. Those youth will spend the week at home, attend a court school and then return to Juvey over the weekend. Thomson discussed the protocol for that conversion. The County Office of Education has taken the first step in moving the court school, Keith Bright, to its Jill Kinmont Boothe School facility, pending the Board’s final vote.

But, questions remain as to the effectiveness of a court school outside the structure of a Juvenile Hall. The Office of Ed contracts with Bishop Unified School District to run the facility. Teacher Angela Scott brought some of her concerns to Tuesday’s board meeting. “My concern is what will happen to students who have been very successful where they are now,” she said. She noted some of the contradictory information on the plan. “We were told there would be daily drug testing and ankle monitors,” she said. “Then we were told that wasn’t going to happen.”

The best spokesperson for the current model is a juvenile’s article that appeared in the local newspaper. “Inyo County Juvenile Center is a healthy environment for minors. Many teens have been able to greatly improve not only their bodies but also their health…. Under the direction of the Probation Department, the staff provides teens in their care with essential skills that they’ll be able to use to be successful following their release…. For some students, remaining at ICJC and Keith Bright is their opportunity to concentrate on their studies and graduate. Eight students have earned their diplomas during the last two years…. ICJC is more than a place to lock away troubled teens. It is a place where minors are treated with respect and given the opportunity to grow and mature, to learn and succeed, to become healthy in mind and body.”

The County’s CEO Kevin Carunchio’s response to Scott’s concerns was “this is interesting information, but it’s not our decision,” referring to the fact the court school comes under the auspices of the Office of Education.

Supervisor Dan Totheroh didn’t agree. “Our decision will have impacts,” he said. “Will the weekend facility meet the needs of these kids? Our goal is the best outcome for these kids, to turn their lives around.”

One of the driving factors,” said Thomson, “is to keep these kids in (the Center) to get their high school diploma.” Thomson added that if the Center goes to a Special Purpose, or 96-hour facility, there is no requirement to provide an education element. The 96-hour limit is based on the requirement that juveniles cannot be out of school for more than 96 hours. “The County’s not in the education business,” he said.

In an interview shortly after presenting the option of moving the court school and the juvenile Resource Center to JKBS, County Superintendent Terry McAteer described a 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. environment for adjudicated youth with staffing provided by BUSD. At that time, ankle monitors were part of the plan as were culinary programs, art and music and recreational programs. “The kids can’t help but be successful,” he said. The day reporting center would provide counseling options and other services and programs.

The schools staff just wants some of the questions and logistics thought out and in place prior to a decision.

Thomson did have answers to questions regarding converting the Center to a Special Purpose facility, how to deal with the required maximum 72-hour hold on juvenile detainees and sending those requiring a 24/7 facility out of the area.

The conversion process is fairly simple. The County provides written notification of the intent to the Board of State Community Corrections including the plan, time-line and how the facility will meet staffing requirements.

The conversion may be simple, but the devil’s in the details, like what you do when law enforcement makes an arrest of a juvenile on a week day with a maximum 72-hours before the arrestee goes to court. Probation is notified and takes custody on a juvenile arrest. The court then makes its decision on detention or the terms for release.

So what happens between the time of arrest and the court date? Some of the options Thomson outlined included house arrest with electronic monitoring, GPS monitoring, a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor device or the County’s WRAP program, placement within the arrestee’s family or community. Or, the juvenile could be immediately transported to an out-of-county facility.

According to Thomson, the Center had 42 intakes during the 2014-15 fiscal year.

With the downward trend in juvenile detention, out-of-county placement is the easiest piece of the puzzle. According to Thomson’s report, contact was made with facilities in El Dorado, Tulare and Kern counties with El Dorado demographics most compatible with Inyo and the least expensive at $70 a day or $25,550 per year per bed if Inyo opts to reserve that space. Probation is also looking into facilities in Tuolomne and Nevada counties.

Probation staff changes connected with the conversion of Juvenile Center are still being worked out, Thomson said. “We’re hoping to iron out the issues. We may not be able to iron them all out.”

The Board directed staff to notify the BSCC of the intent to convert Juvenile Center to a Special Purpose facility and to develop agreements for out-of-county placements.

 

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4 Responses to Inyo Supervisors discuss conversion for Juvenile Center

  1. Trouble April 7, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    Great article. To me, this is music to my ears!

     
  2. Bone April 7, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Thomson states that County’s not in the education business, I think he might need educated.Why do you think there is a Inyo County School District, Superintendent, and so on.

     
    • JQP April 9, 2016 at 8:37 am #

      Bone, let me educate YOU – those are State of California agencies, not Inyo County agencies. The “Inyo County” in their names simply denotes geographic location and authority, not jurisdictional control.

       
  3. Jeremiah Joseph April 11, 2016 at 10:34 am #

    I feel I have relevance to leave a reply, due to my experience on Inyo County juvenile probation and over 90 days that have been accredited to my Juvi experiences….
    Let me put it this way, since I have been a adult I have stayed off Inyo County Probation, and was on Inyo County Probation from 13-18, so I understand the tentacles this county has on people when deemed a law violator, the sad thing is this county has a “bottom feeder” attitude and uses the people as a resource to meet their economic proposals and justification of why they violate peoples human and constitutional rights……
    Nothing about the solitary confinement worked for me, I feel that is the last thing individuals needs when going through a tough time… why is it in this society when people need human contact and someone their to tell them they are worth giving themselves a chance in providing a decent life for themselves, and continually shown examples how to implement the life they want to lead, but instead we see them be labeled, outcasted and isolated…. Thats wrong folks, wrong on many levels…
    I remember Thomson working in the Juvi, and by now he should understand it is education that will save the troubled souls from continuing down that road, SO WAKE UP THOMSON! Why would you blatantly say you are not in the education business? Well if the desicion makers due their best, they should be able to iron it out within the peoples and youths best interest, not the economic function of the facility, think about the kids who have been well acquainted with abuse, neglect and abandonment in the early stages of life, they deserve peoples tax dollars and the people in a position like juvinile facilities to address the things that can make the difference…. not reinforce the labels and isolation from human contact.. Its not confinement or isolation that is helpful, its the human contact and acceptance and understanding that helped me….and some… introduce them to people that understand what the kids are going through, not in a punitive fashion or a book smart way, but in a recovering fashion… I mean some of these kids have been abused all their lives and the answer’s we have is indirectly encouraging them into more abuse later on in life, I mean what does the criminal correctional justice system correct? Nothing! So get off your high horse and be receptive to the kids…Show me that you do care and we will see approaches and protocol changing if that is the case…

    This is a topic that I have major passion for, so I would happily reply to any comments…

    Lets not waste a opportunity to help out the future and those that deserve it.

     

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