A decision about Camps Scott and Scudder is on hold for at least another 60 days after Supervisor Kathryn Barger filed an amended motion Tuesday calling for county staff to explore all possible sites to house violent juvenile offenders in Los Angeles County — and not just the Saugus campuses.
The Board of Supervisors motion filed by Barger and Hilda Solis passed 3-2. The item asks the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council’s Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant Ad-Hoc Subcommittee to devise a plan, with input from the Youth Justice Transition Advisory Group and Probation Department labor partners, to create an assessment of all licensed probation facilities in the county to identify feasibility within 60 days.
The motion comes in response to a May recommendation from the JJRBG to move all juvenile offenders to the two campuses located in Bouquet Canyon.
“I have no preconceived notion as to where or what it will look like as it relates to location,” Barger said, “but I can tell you that I think we have to exhaust all avenues before we come to one simple decision based on, what I believe, was not all the information that was necessary to come up with the recommendation that was brought forward.”
The assessment, Barger’s motion said, should account for site conditions and necessary improvements.
Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell voted against the motion, with Kuehl arguing it would force the JJBRG to start over again in its search.
The May decision, while praised by youth criminal justice reform advocates for its therapeutic approach to helping these teenagers and young adults, was heavily criticized by local residents and stakeholders. Local officials said they were given little to no warning that this decision was being made, and city of Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda said the campuses were originally designed to house non-violent offenders.
Miranda also noted that the facilities are closely located to a few hundred current homes and upcoming housing tracts, and that fire danger was a very real threat in the area.
During the board meeting Tuesday, Mitchell said she appreciated the feedback from residents who expressed their concerns regarding the facilities being located in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The substitute motion that was proposed by Barger and Solis does not necessarily say that Camps Scott and Scudder will not be used by the Department of Juvenile Justice, but rather asks that other camps throughout the county be analyzed.
“I’m requesting the subcommittee consider the operational needs to effectively care for DJJ youth in order to help identify the most effective housing location,” said Barger.
Barger did not rule out having the campuses in her district, but said that the county should take the time to understand the exact needs of each facility by the 2022 deadline from the state.
“Having multiple options for consideration is key to ensuring the best possible foundation for success for the DJJ youth, something I believe this board as a whole, wants to do,” said Barger. “The time frame proposed in this motion allows for community, and board feedback. It also brings all partners … to the table to make this a fully transparent and cooperative process.”