Protesters gather at Camp Scott as site inspections begin

Saugus resident Deborah Buffman, 50, holds a sign in support of a protest against the use of Camp Joseph Scott as a permanent juvenile detention facility in front of the Camp Scott entrance in Saugus, Calif., on Friday, April 1, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal

Approximately 35 people gathered at the entrance of Camp Scott in Saugus on Friday morning to protest L.A. County’s plan to house about 150 juveniles convicted of violent crimes.  

The protest was held to coincide with the inspection of the site by representatives from the Los Angeles County Probation Department, who arrived and left but did not acknowledge the protesters. The inspection was done to determine the extent of renovations needed to reopen the camp 

Protesters held signs, spoke to the press, and cheered for any passing vehicles that honked in support, which included a U.S. Postal Service carrier as he exited the camp. 

The protest was organized by Sue Fischer, leader of a Facebook group called “No Prison Development on Bouquet Canyon,” who has been a vocal critic of the camp since the idea of reopening it was initially disclosed last year.  

“They’re all convicts. They’re all murderers, rapists, high-level 707 offenders,” Fischer said, referring to the California government code section regarding youth offenders. “We’re just concerned about the fact that it’s here and 600 feet across from our homes, all these homes and parks, schools, etc.”   

Among the biggest concerns of those protesting are the camp’s future inhabitants, who will mainly be between the ages of 18-25 and convicted of severe offenses such as murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, and other high-level felonies. 

Most of the protesters shared the same concerns about Camp Scott, one of which being the potential of escape by detainees.  

“I think it’s going to be like a country club where these people will be able to walk out of here when they want to,” said Jack Elliot, a Santa Clarita resident.  

“It’s a well-known fact that, you know, they escape,” said Fischer. “They are not planning on putting up a barbed wire fence. The idea is that they’re going to be in, according to their words, a home-like environment where they all get their own rooms and possibly bathrooms.” 

“They’re putting gang bangers, they’re putting people who have raped and molested children and elderly people and when they escape, that’s where they’ll come. These neighborhoods,” said Sheila Lumbar, another Santa Clarita resident. 

Another concern among the protesters is the conditions of the camp, a sentiment shared by Santa Clarita city officials.  

On March 22, the City Council voted to file a California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit against Los Angeles County. The county Board of Supervisors previously indicated that its motion to reopen Camp Scott was not subject to CEQA. Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, was the only dissenting vote in the board’s 4-1 decision to move forward with housing violent youth offenders at Camp Scott. 

“For them to come in and out if there is a fire or if there is any kind of flood, it’s going to be difficult for them to evacuate,” said Mary Osborn, a Santa Clarita resident.  

“We’re mostly concerned about the fact that this is a fire and flood zone. It’s always been a fire and flood zone. And that in the end, not if but when, we have a fire again, and we’ve all been evacuated before, it is very hard to get out of here,” said Fischer. 

In an email sent to The Signal on Thursday, Stephanie English, senior field deputy for Barger, said that the placement of youth in the facility would not be happening in the “immediate, foreseeable future.” 

Related Article: Barger calls for permanent closure of Camp Scudder

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