No new plans to house county juvies in SCV 

Community members held 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. Many protestors said the facility is “too close for comfort” with it being located across the street from a Saugus neighborhood. Chris Torres/The Signal

A state board’s decision Monday to end pretrial detention for L.A. County youth at Barry J. Nidorf and Central Juvenile Hall won’t send additional youth to Camp Scott or Camp Scudder, according to county officials, but there will be impacts for local families of those in custody.  

“The Board of State and Community Corrections today found two Los Angeles County juvenile halls unsuitable for housing youth,” according to a statement issued by the BSCC this week, “an unprecedented vote that comes after years of BSCC staff inspections identifying items of noncompliance.” 

A news release noted years of failures to comply with regulations and “correct items of noncompliance” in the decision, which also follows media reports of a fentanyl-related overdose death at a San Fernando Valley facility. 

Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar was identified earlier this year as the location where high-risk male juvenile offenders up to age 24 would be housed in the county’s new Safe Track Youth Facility system. 

The decision this week “disappointed” representatives with the county’s Probation Department, which supervises juveniles in custody, according to a statement Monday from the agency’s spokeswoman. 

“While we are disappointed with the decision by the Board of State and Community Corrections to impose a 60-day deadline for closing Central and Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Halls, we agree that it is time for the Department to discontinue using these facilities for housing pre-disposition youth,” according to a statement from Karla Tovar, spokeswoman for the department. “We are already executing a plan to transfer these youth, staff, programs, and services to Los Padrinos by the deadline. We also want to make clear that the BSCC’s decision today will not result in the release of hundreds of youth, as some have erroneously alleged.” 

Originally, a state board charged with realigning the now-dissolved statewide juvenile incarceration system into local custody had originally called for these offenders to be placed at Camp Scott, which would have received a $40 million makeover. 

A lawsuit from the city and lobbying from Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the 5th District that includes the Santa Clarita Valley, resulted in those plans being scuttled and the juveniles in custody being slated for Sylmar. 

With the announcement about Sylmar on Monday, those concerns briefly were renewed. A spokeswoman from Barger’s office confirmed there was no indication of a change in the plans that would send additional youth to the SCV. 

Barger issued a statement via email through Helen Chavez, her communications director, which indicated she’d be closely monitoring the situation. 

“I’m not surprised. I appreciate that our county’s Probation Department — under new leadership — presented a thoughtful plan that already aimed to achieve today’s BSCC directive to move all unsentenced youth to Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall,” Barger wrote. “Doing so in less than half the time our department experts proposed, however, adds more pressure to a complicated operation so I’m concerned. I will continue closely tracking our Probation Department’s planning process and implementation. Keeping the youth in our care and staff safe during the move is our No. 1 priority.” 

A city official confirmed Wednesday a lawsuit against the county that seeks to require an Environment Impact Report before any renovations are completed at the juvenile camps is still active. 

A county official familiar with the situation speaking on background pointed out there could be impacts by any local families who may have family or friends in custody. By shifting all of the county’s juveniles in custody to Los Padrinos in Downey, it creates a real difficulty for families of those juveniles, which also frequently have mobility challenges, to be able to support the facility’s rehabilitative efforts. 

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