Mayor Bill Miranda spoke directly with the committee recommending the transfer of juvenile offenders to Camps Scott and Scudder on Wednesday, saying the move required more environmental impact reports and public outreach.
The address from Miranda was made during a public meeting of the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant subcommittee, the body recommending a plan that would transfer all juvenile offenders under detainment to the Saugus camps for the foreseeable future, once millions in renovations are made to the camps.
The final plan, which is expected to be voted on by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the coming months, would move the county’s youth offenders to the Bouquet Canyon Road facility, and comes on the heels of the county attempting to find a new housing solution in light of legislation passed last year.
Officials have not said how many offenders they believe will be housed at Camps Scott and Scudder.
During his comment, Miranda urged them to consider the various environmental impacts and conduct community engagement meetings with local officials and community members in an effort to identify alternative facilities in the county suitable for the DJJ population coming to Camp Scott and Scudder.
“Camp Scott and Scudder were originally designed and built in the 1950s to serve low-level offenders, and have historically operated within this capacity, until March 2020, when the camps were closed,” said Miranda, highlighting that the current plan would include some of the county’s most violent juvenile offenders. “Moreover, Camps Scott and Scudder are located within high-risk area flood zones as established by FEMA, and very high fire hazard severity zones as established by the State Fire Marshal.”
In recent memory, Miranda recounted that the Martindale Fire in September 2020 and Texas Fire in August 2020 as having burned in the area.
“Surrounded by dry vegetation and hilly terrain on three sides of the facilities, Camps Scott and Scudder are significantly prone to natural disasters, especially wildfires,” he said.
During his address, Miranda referenced a letter sent to the subcommittee Tuesday regarding the city’s position on the move. In it, city staff noted that the camps are located 700 feet east of a 375-unit housing tract.
The letter also emphasizes that the Youth Justice Work Group’s recommendations, which were presented in December 2020 and approved by the board on Feb. 9, heavily alludes to Campus Kilpatrick and Camps Gonzales and Kirby as more suitable for the DJJ population. However, a May 26 draft plan had changed the suitable location to the Saugus locations.
“Camp Scott and Scudder are located 600 feet from existing housing tracts and 700 feet from a recently approved residential development of 375 homes,” said Miranda. Renovations to security fencing and other physical barriers … due to their close proximity to existing and future communities, would undoubtedly create an institutionalized prison-like setting further contrary to the Youth Justice Reimagined Report.”
Miranda then urged the subcommittee to utilize the next four months to review the environmental impacts and conduct public outreach to identify suitable alternatives.
After Miranda’s address, the subcommittee members informed him that they had received the city’s letter, and would be reviewing its contents.