New plan calls for Camp Scott to house female youth offenders
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is changing tact with its plan for a juvenile camp facility in Santa Clarita, marking a big win for city officials who are engaged in a court battle with the Probation Department over its previously announced plans for Camp Scott in Saugus.
With a motion Tuesday titled “Adopting a Global Plan for the Probation Department’s Halls and Camps,” supervisors voted to make Camp Scott the main facility for female offenders in the county’s juvenile justice system.
The county’s Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant Committee, a group tasked under Senate Bill 823 with recommendations for transforming the state’s Juvenile Justice Division, initially recommended the county spend millions to turn Camp Scott into a maximum-security facility for violent male offenders who committed their crimes as juveniles but could be in custody up to age 25.
The 2020 law called for the closure of all state juvenile facilities with the intent of transferring all of those in custody to county facilities, while “realigning” the current system.
The committee’s plan for Camp Scott drew the ire of local residents and leaders who objected to the plan to house the county’s most violent youth offenders in close proximity to residences, as well as safety concerns about the facility itself in the event of fires, floods and other disasters.
Tuesday’s motion calls for the Probation Department to “renovate Camp Scott to end the temporary use of Dorothy Kirby Center, return young women and girls from Dorothy Kirby Center to Camp Scott and operate Camp Scott as the one county detention facility for all girls.” It passed unanimously.
The plan also splits all male offenders between the Barry J. Nidorf facility in Sylmar and the Campus Kilpatrick facility in Malibu, which the Probation Department considers its “flagship” location of the department’s “L.A. Model” for juvenile rehabilitative service facilities, according to the department’s website.
Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs issued a statement expressing his pleasure with the move Tuesday afternoon:
“We are pleased to see the county changing course on Camp Scott, and returning its use to house and rehabilitate young women and girls who are non-serious offenders,” he said in a statement sent via text on Tuesday. “The original proposal went against the desires of our community, council and our supervisor, and would not have been to the benefit of violent youth seeking rehabilitation.”
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who supported the move, also issued a statement Tuesday in support of it.
“I wholeheartedly supported the global plan for our Probation Department’s juvenile halls and camps that was presented today,” Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley, said in a statement shared via text Tuesday afternoon. “It was a thoughtful proposal that balanced selecting facilities that could realistically and quickly be used to rehabilitate the youth in our county’s care. I am very pleased that Barry J. Nidorf (in Sylmar) will be transformed to house the youth that were previously under the state’s care. Those youth need a secure environment where therapy, education and work training programs can be offered. I introduced a similar motion to use Nidorf instead of Camp Scott about a year ago that didn’t pass — but am glad that we can now agree about our path and next steps.”
The motion reactivates the Bouquet Canyon camp in a way that is consistent with the historical use of the site, according to a statement from the city. “There is no plan to reopen Camp Scudder, which is located on the same property and was closed by the county in 2019 due to issues related to its structural vulnerability.”