The Saugus-based Camp Scott was placed on a short list of potential future sites for the county’s violent youth offenders, officials said Friday.
While Camp Joseph Scott and Camp Kenyon Scudder, both located on the 28700 block of Bouquet Canyon Road, were initially being considered, only Scott was placed on the short list for housing youth offenders.
Also, on the list for the boys’ campus alongside Camp Scott were Camps Joseph Paige and Afflerbaugh in La Verne and Camp Kilpatrick Miller in Malibu. Scudder had not been placed on the immediate list, but the scorecards suggest that the two Bouquet Canyon camps could be “twinned” in the future to “provide a larger campus.”
While Camp Scott had worse overall scores than some of the other camps listed, and therefore is considered less desirable than some other camps based on the selected criteria, the other, higher scoring camps, are either a part of “future plans” for the Board of Supervisors or are already housing a different youth population, according to officials.
One of the considered sites that appeared to score equally as good, if not better, than most other sites, Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey, was not placed on the list of recommended sites.
Adam Bettino, chair of the JCC and chief deputy at the Probation Department, said Los Padrinos wasn’t being considered because it was already housing a different population of “disconnected” underage girls who are not working or presently in school.
“Just so folks are aware — I’ll state it plainly: The (Los Angeles County) 4th District has said under no circumstances can we send this population to Los Padrinos at this point,” said Bettino. “Right now, they’re only occupying a small part of the larger facility, but there are much larger plans to build out something that is more of a transformative space that provides services to the entire community potentially.”
One of the other options, Juvenile Camp Challenger, was left off the list due to issues with its capacity, space and facilities. However, it’s slated to become a vocational training center for former justice system, foster and homeless youth in the future, according to a representative for 5th District County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“With Los Padrinos and Challenger … there are ‘disconnected’ young women living at Los Padrinos, so it’s become a stable housing option for folks in our community,” said Adam Bettino, chief deputy at the probation department. “So, while it’s rated mostly green here, it’s a nonstarter. Challenger is being transformed into a residential vocational training center.
“Those are areas that have been reimagined, they’re being transformed as we speak, and I don’t think that we want to interrupt any of that so that we can create another detention center,” Bettino added.
Camp Dorothy Kirby in Commerce was the only suggestion made by the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council — the body charged with making the recommendations — to house the female youth population.
These suggestions, according to JJCC, will now be sent to the Juvenile Justice Block Grant subcommittee and eventually the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. The offices of each individual supervisor will then evaluate the site proposals, discuss amongst one another, and a motion may be presented to the board as soon as early November, according to Christina Mesesan, Barger’s justice deputy.
Following the meeting, city of Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda shared a similar frustration about the JJCC process that has been expressed by a number of local residents in recent months.
“Today’s meeting was another example of how flawed this process has been,” said Miranda. “The subcommittee went through the process of creating evaluation criteria for each of the considered facilities, but then did not reference the evaluations when formulating their decisions. “
Miranda stated that the city would continue to work to show Camp Scott is “unsafe” and “unsuitable” to house serious youth offenders.
“There are several facilities that received more favorable evaluations than Camp Scott that were not included in the subcommitte’s recommendation,” Miranda said. “Camp Scott was the only facility to receive a red/non-responsive score for Resiliency for Potential Fire/Flood Hazards, which is the only life-threatening category that was evaluated, yet it was still selected for recommendation.”
Following months of deliberation and analysis, the list of recommendations announced during the JJCC’s Friday meeting were based on a ranking system that analyzed 11 different potential sites around the county.
The key considerations for each site’s overall score ranged from the existence, or potential for, single rooms for inmate youth, being able to locate treatment staff on the unit, access to nearby academic institutions and space for outdoor/indoor recreation, among others.
Additionally, the JJCC evaluators considered whether each site already had or could potentially have “robust staff facilities” and “full support facilities.” Each of the considered sites then had individual score cards with each consideration at each site receiving a four-tiered, colored ranking — green, yellow, orange and red with green being the highest, or “fully responsive,” to the lowest of “not responsive” being red.
While Scott scored relatively well in terms of its present facilities or possible renovations, having a number of “highly responsive to criterion” or “generally responsive/easily modified to be responsive to criterion” scores, it did have a red, or “not responsive,” scoring for its potential fire/flood hazard criterion.
Camp Scott lies in the 100-year floodplain of Bouquet Canyon Creek and has multiple access points, the report reads. However, there is a single access road that lies in the floodplain and structures within the area will either need to be built above that elevation or levee/earth berm/grading will be needed to address base flood elevation.
The Bouquet Canyon camp will also require, according to the scorecard, the construction of a 600-foot-long-by-6-foot-wide “concrete v-channel” with an estimated cost of $30,000. Another $4,000 will need to be spent annually in order to remove sediment and storm buildup.
Other additions, including but not limited to improvements to visitor facilities, office space, electronic locks/fire alarm systems, perimeter fencing, were also recommended. However, the JJCC report states the new construction is believed to be on “the lower end of the overall cost spectrum” and will take approximately 18 months to complete.
“In response to the state’s closure of the Department of Juvenile Justice and the proposed placement location identified, I asked for a comprehensive evaluation of all licensed facilities throughout Los Angeles County so that all options can be considered,” Barger said after the meeting. “When this assessment is finalized, the JJRBG will provide its recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. I eagerly await this report and the opportunity to review all of the available options.”
A representative for Supervisor Janice Hahn, whose jurisdiction includes the area where the Los Padrinos facility is located, did not respond to a request for comment as of the publication of this story.