Residents testify against potential Saugus camp for violent youth

Sign on Bouquet Canyon Road for Camp Scudder and Camp Scott. 062421. Dan Watson/The Signal
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By Jim Holt 
Senior Investigative Reporter 

Santa Clarita Valley residents worried about the prospect of violent young offenders who may be housed in Saugus told Los Angeles County supervisors to house them somewhere else. 

A handful of residents joined the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting remotely Tuesday to express their concerns. 

Commenters echoed opinions expressed at a town hall meeting a couple of months ago. Several SCV residents expressed concern about a plan to possibly house the county’s most violent youth offenders at Camp Scott in Saugus.  The camp, which previously housed low-level juvenile offenders, was closed in 2020. 

Plans to reopen the facility emerged a year ago in response to the Youth Justice Reimagined initiative and Senate Bill 823, which calls for the state to stop housing violent youth offenders and turn that responsibility over to individual counties. 

Jason Gibbs, mayor pro tem of the city of Santa Clarita, added his voice Tuesday to those urging the board to use the refurbished Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar to rehabilitate youth accused of more serious crimes. 

“I want to express my support that the population formerly under DJJ (Division of Juvenile Justice) supervision be placed at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, where renovations to enhance rehabilitative treatment are already planned and which will ensure the greatest level of stability and continuity in service,” Gibbs said. 

“Additionally, I’d like to also express my support for Campus Kilpatrick to be used as a permanent facility for the population formerly under the DJJ supervision in addition to Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall. Campus Kilpatrick offers a non-institutionalized environment and programming to adequately rehabilitate those  who are in greatest need of rehabilitation,” he said of the Malibu site. 

“Both of these facilities will offer this population the resources needed to rehabilitate and become productive members of society.” 

A man identifying himself as David Goldstein, a resident of Santa Clarita, told the board: “I am also strongly supporting the choice of the Barry J. Nidorf facility as the best location for the placement of the DJJ population and strongly opposing further consideration of Camp Scott and Scudder. 

“The data that has been presented is clear in this regard,” Goldstein told the board. “Camp Scott and Scudder pose significant environmental risk to its residents due to its placement within high wind, high fire and flood zones and frequent loss of power issues.” 

The Saugus location is extremely remote, he said, and would “further isolate the population from their community, which has been stated as an important component of their rehabilitation. I urge you to remove Camp Scott and Scudder from further consideration and make the data-driven selection of the Barry J. Nidorf facility as the most appropriate facility for this purpose.” 

A woman, introduced by a meeting facilitator to the board as Theresa Bouchard, said she was a resident of Santa Clarita since 1984 and that she was opposed to Camp Scott being “transformed from a probation camp to a maximum-security prison.” 

“I feel it’s pretty irresponsible to put this facility in a residential neighborhood,” she said. 

“According to the score board, Camp Scott scored the lowest possible score,” she added, referring to a scoring system used to evaluate potential locations to house the violent youth offenders. “We would require many improvements to house the unit. It would be dangerous not only for the residents but for the staff and inmates, if evacuation is required.” 

The county is expected to make a decision on the issue in the next couple of months. 

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