La Verne and Santa Clarita residents criticize plan to relocate young offenders – Daily bulletin

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La Verne and the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley on Wednesday night Jan.5 blasted a possible plan to house Los Angeles County’s most serious juvenile delinquents in their communities.

In La Verne, the Joseph pPaige and Clinton B. Afflerbaugh camps are on a short list of departmental sites to accommodate these young people. Camp Scott in Santa Clarita is also on that list, while Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu is an option as a staging site, officials said on Wednesday.

Glenn Rockey Camp in San Dimas was previously considered an alternate site.

Below Senate Bill 823, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in September 2020, minors as young as 12 – some of whom remain in detention until the age of 25 – convicted of murder, arson and other crimes would be transferred from state prisons to county facilities to rehabilitate young people closer to their homes. The purpose of the bill is to place young people in “the least restrictive appropriate environment”.

In response, the LA County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council created a task force, the Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grants Subcommittee, to implement the bill.

If chosen, each camp in La Verne could house up to 50 high-level offenders previously overseen by the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice. Afflerbaugh and Paige camps currently house mostly low-level juvenile offenders and it is unclear where the new population would be housed if the county chose the La Verne sites.

Adam Bettino, an LA County chief probation assistant and subcommittee member, said at the town hall meeting on Wednesday that the facilities would have adequate security. This could include anti-escalation fencing, additional gates, security cameras, and additional security measures around the perimeter.

In La Verne, there would be a fence between the two camps and a nearby firefighters staging area to improve safety, according to the LA County Probation Oversight Commission.

The North Stephens Ranch Road camps are one mile from the foothills houses that surround Marshall Canyon and a 10-minute drive from Highway 210. Camp Scott in Santa Clarita is in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

The county probation service is considering a shuttle service for visitors and to alleviate the need for parking. Currently, 14 young offenders convicted of serious crimes are awaiting placement at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar.

For weeks, community members and city officials have opposed the transfer of more violent offenders to the La Verne facilities. The towns of San Dimas, Glendora, Claremont and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments have all sent letters to the county opposing the relocation of young minors.

Many who spoke at the meeting reiterated their position that another site in the county should accommodate young people. Among the speakers were the entire city council of La Verne, who spoke individually on Wednesday.

“We are a very generous community and have been for many, many years and I think the commission needs to readjust its thoughts and place these young people in institutions” closer to where many of their families live, said Mayor Tim. Hepburn.

Masis Hagobian, intergovernmental affairs analyst for Santa Clarita, expressed concerns about the relocation of violent youth to the city and called Camp Kilpatrick the better option.

Any site would also see an increased 1-to-4 staff ratio and services for young people to work towards a goal, including educational and career paths, Bettino said.

Youth formerly under the state’s juvenile justice department have spoken out in favor of the county’s plan.

Ezekiel Nishiyama, member of the Anti-recidivism coalition, who is working to end mass incarceration in the state, said comments from many residents were wrong.

“I recently came home two years ago after spending four years in some of these establishments,” Nishiyama said. “These kids are more than serious minors and I am here today just to talk about the fact that they are not what they are supposed to be.”

Samuel Lewis, a member of the County Probation Oversight Board, said he himself had been in jail as a youth and was saddened that so many people say they support rehabilitation , but say “not in my garden”.

“If it was your son or daughter who found himself in these circumstances, would you abandon them and say, ‘I don’t want them to be near me?’ Lewis asked.

The next virtual town hall on the realignment of juvenile prisons in LA County is set for 9 a.m. on Thursday, January 13. The public is requested to register in advance for probation.lacounty.gov.

The LA County Oversight Board is expected to announce a final location to house young offenders based on recommendations from the Juvenile Justice Subcommittee in mid-January or February.


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