Our View | Punishment, Not Death

Our View

By The Signal
Editorial Board

Violent youth criminals should be incarcerated, but they should be incarcerated safely — and it’s clear that Camps Scudder and Scott are not the places to do that.

That’s the biggest takeaway from the latest “scorecard” released by the L.A. County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council and the Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant subcommittee on Friday. 

Scudder and Scott, both in Bouquet Canyon, are in significant hazard zones for fires and floods, with Camp Scott receiving the lowest possible rating for such safety, classified as “red.”

Red means stop, and L.A. County would be well-advised to stop considering its plan to incarcerate its most violent youth criminals in Saugus.

Our previous objections have focused on the impact the new juvenile facilities would have on our community. Those impacts are, as we have detailed previously, significant and unacceptable.

But this is a different wrinkle. This is a matter of safety not only for the surrounding community, but also for the very youths and young adults who would be incarcerated at the camps.

It’s undisputed that L.A. County has to find someplace to put them. The state of California has abdicated its responsibility to house juvenile criminals, dumping that task on individual counties throughout the state.

That dump has prompted L.A. County officials to look for a suitable place, and they immediately eyed the Bouquet Canyon camps — not necessarily because it’s really the best location, but because it’s the most politically expedient one. 

There are other more suitable locations in L.A. County. The county’s own scorecard proves it — with some other locations rated “green” in the most important categories, including safety. 

But the majority of L.A. County supervisors are finding every possible excuse to exclude those locations in favor of sending the county’s most violent youth offenders to Saugus.

You can’t help wondering why. And you still have a chance to ask that question, and let your voice be heard, by contacting the supervisor who represents us, 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

We’re counting on her to stand up to her counterparts on the Board of Supervisors. Not only to protect our community, which of course should be Priority No. 1, but also to protect those youth offenders who, if the rest of the county leadership gets its way, would be placed in a high fire and flood hazard zone with only one way in and out, which would make evacuations exceedingly difficult and hazardous in an emergency.

The public should be protected from the kids and the young adults who will be held in L.A. County’s detention camps who have committed violent crimes. But by the same token, those same kids — and the young adults — should be detained safely.

Whatever crime they’ve committed, they don’t deserve to die in a fire or a flood. That makes the Bouquet Canyon camps a non-starter. At least, it should.

The county’s most violent juvenile offenders should be punished — but not sentenced to death.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS