TO: The Honorable William L. Gordon, Presiding Judge
FROM: Susan J. Gionfriddo, Chief Probation Officer
RE: RESPONSE TO 1995-96 GRAND JURY REPORT
ENTITLED "JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITIES"
Please accept the following as my official response to the 1995-96 Grand Jury Report regarding "Juvenile Detention Facilities", which was released on May 3, 1996. My comments will chronologically follow each section of the report as captioned by the Grand Jury.
OBSERVATIONS, Santa Maria Juvenile Hall (page two):
"Because of the two separated housing units, the Grand Jury learned night shift cannot adequately supervise both of these areas, as well as the intake reception area during bookings."
COMMENT: My response to this observation is contained within my response to Finding Number 3.
OBSERVATIONS, Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall (page three):
"The capacity of Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall is 56 and is staffed by six people on a 24 hour basis."
COMMENT: The specific shifts are staffed as follows:
A.M. SHIFT: Seven staff (Institutions Supervisor, JIO III serving as shift leader, and five other staff).
P.M. SHIFT : Six staff (JIO III serving as shift leader, and five other staff, which includes at least one Home Supervision Officer; when exterior home supervision program exceeds limit of 15, an additional Home Supervision Officer is added from Extra Help coverage to comply with staffing mandates).
NIGHT (GRAVEYARD) SHIFT: Three staff (JIO III serving as shift leader, and two other staff).
OBSERVATIONS, ST. VINCENT'S RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FACILITY (page three):
"Under contractual arrangements between St. Vincent's and the County of Santa Barbara, a detention center for non-violent juvenile females was established through a cooperative effort of several county agencies..."
"The contract with the County Probation Department originally authorized 12 detainees; now increased to 18..."
"They receive classroom instruction provided by the County School District."
COMMENT: St. Vincent's Residential Treatment Facility is not a detention program of the Probation Department. Rather, it is a Group Home licensed by the Community Care Licensing Division of the State Department of Social Services. The Probation Department does not have a specific contract for bed space; the Juvenile Court orders female offenders there on an as-needed and space-available basis. However, the Probation Department was instrumental in collaborating with the Santa Barbara County Department of Mental Health and Department of Social Services in developing the program with St. Vincent's. Other counties are also free to place minors in this program, and do. St. Vincent's has actually increased their program capacity beyond the twelve they were able to accommodate upon commencement. Also, it should be noted that since the release of this Grand Jury report, County Schools is no longer providing direct classroom instruction on the premises of St. Vincent's. However, they have been helpful in relocating students to other suitable school environments, most of which are at the El Puente Community School facility operated by County Schools.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
FINDING 1: "The juvenile detention facilities in Santa Barbara County appear to be well managed."
RESPONSE: In all, we are pleased with this Finding; ongoing increases in problematic workloads have been particularly challenging to both line and management staff.
FINDING 2: "Consistent with the previous years' grand jury reports, this Grand Jury also finds that the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is not large enough to handle the number of juveniles arrested."
RECOMMENDATION 2: "Increase the size of the North County Juvenile Hall to approximately 80 beds with commensurate staffing, as recommended by the 1994-95 Grand Jury. The Board of Supervisors should approve funding to implement the recommendation."
RESPONSE: The Santa Maria Juvenile Hall remains at a rated capacity of 20 beds, a figure that does not coincide with the increasing number of delinquent youths in Northern Santa Barbara County in need of secure detention in Juvenile Hall. The facility remains too small to hold the number of minors referred by local law enforcement agencies and/or ordered detained by the Courts. In 1995, 2,290 minors were detained in both the Santa Maria and Santa Barbara Juvenile Halls. Of those, over 67% were residents of north county. Presently, each juvenile hall frequently exceeds capacity. The Santa Maria Juvenile Hall exceeded its 20 bed capacity on 102 of the first 145 days in 1996. Thus, the facility was overcrowded 70% of the time and remains woefully inadequate in meeting the needs of juvenile detention in North County.
In addition, juvenile gangs in north county are growing in size and scope of illegal activities. Juvenile Hall overcrowding causes more detainee fighting, potential danger of violent/sexual assault when minors are doubled up in rooms designed for one youngster, less opportunity for schooling as classrooms can accept only a specific number of pupils, and increased stress upon already overworked juvenile hall staff members. The danger of injury to staff from overcrowded conditions is indeed a reality.
Since 1993, Juvenile Hall admissions have increased by 42%. During the same timeframe, the number of minors placed on Home Supervision has increased by 25%. This intensive supervision program is a requirement form of non-secure detention and has been used to mitigate the Juvenile Hall overcrowding. The Weekend Work program has also been used in lieu of secure detention.
Furthermore, the inadequacy of the size of the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall requires large numbers of local minors to be transported south to the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall for holding. Although the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall has a capacity of 56 beds, it too, is frequently overcrowded due to demands for housing both north and south county violators.
The Board of Supervisors has previously authorized Jay Farbstein Associates of San Luis Obispo to study the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall as part of the County's Master Plan for justice facilities. The result of the study documented a need for a larger juvenile hall to serve northern Santa Barbara County. We do agree that the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, as presently configured, is inadequate for present and future detention needs and concur with the Grand Jury recommendation to increase the facility to at least 80 beds.
In consideration of funding necessary to provide such construction, we are hopeful for a successful measure to provide funding to begin this costly process.
FINDING 3: "The staffing at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is not
adequate to manage and provide the necessary daily operation of the
RECOMMENDATION 3: "Although there are two staff members on the evening shift, a minimum of three people should be on duty. The Board of Supervisors should provide funds to alleviate this problem."
RESPONSE: Although the Probation Department would consider it favorable to receive a third staff person on the evening (graveyard) shift at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, the current operation of the shift with two staff (including the shift Supervisor) meets the "Minimum Standards for Juvenile Halls":Article 4, Section 4279, of the California Code of Regulations (Title 15, Division 4, Chapter 2, Subchapter 3) entitled Personnel, which states:
" (b) With the provision that the superintendent may vary staff
assignments to meet special program needs (such as behavior
control emergencies, recreational and educational activities which
cause a low unit population, visiting, etc.), sufficient child super-
vision staff to provide continuous wide-awake supervision in
compliance with a minimum child- staff ratio as follows:
(1) During the hours that minors are awake, one wide-awake
child supervision staff member on duty for each 10 minors in
(2) During the hours that minors are asleep, one wide-awake
child supervision staff member on duty for each 30 minors in
(3) At least two wide-awake child supervision staff members on
duty at all times, regardless of the number of minors, unless
arrangements have been made for backup support services
which allows for immediate response to emergencies."
In short, we always meet the standard of two staff on duty on the evening shift at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall. Additional staff may be assigned to any shift when considered essential for safety and security. Also, the proximity of Sheriff's Department staff next door and assistance of law enforcement staff at booking is a utilized resource when the need arises.
In sum, if we are to receive funding to add additional staff to our Juvenile Hall program, it is our opinion that the best use of such additional resources would be to employ a full-time officer responsible for transportation, given the increasing responsibility we incur for daily transportation runs to and from Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall, extra-parental placements, etc. The other higher priority staffing option for Juvenile Hall would be to increase staffing for the exterior program of Home Supervision/House Arrest/Electronic Monitoring. As is, our staffing allocation frequently exceeds the mandated caseload of one to fifteen, thus requiring us to employ Extra Help staffing to provide this service mandate.
FINDING 4: "At the Los Prietos Boys' Camp, juveniles who have a communicable disease are not separated from other detainees."
RECOMMENDATION 4: "A separate facility should be established to isolate juveniles with contagious/infectious diseases."
RESPONSE: To properly response to this recommendation, we consulted with William Edelstein, M.D., the physician assigned to the Boys' Camp three hours per week, and Beverly Alexander, R.N., the Nurse assigned to Los Prietos five half-days per week. Both are employed by Santa Barbara County Health Care Services, the department with whom we contract for medical services to our Juvenile Institution facilities. Nurse Alexander screens the minors' health needs Monday through Friday, and also avails herself to evening and weekend calls. We also have the services of an on-call physician twenty-four hours per day.
Dr. Edelstein does not believe we need a separate isolation facility at Camp. He noted that we have the ability to remove, and have historically removed, minors with reportable contagious viral diseases to their homes or to isolation rooms at the Juvenile Hall; extreme cases are hospitalized. Dr. Edelstein advised that true influenza would require removal of the minor from Los Prietos, but that he has not treated such a case at Los Prietos as it is an "uncommon ailment among younger patients". He did state that "mildly infectious diseases are around us all of the time and can be dealt with on site." Dr. Edelstein concurs with our practice of utilizing the separate "sick bay" room in the Camp Administration Building to remove an ill ward from the rigors of the daily program, and also concurs that the dorm setting is generally acceptable to house the minors for evening activities and sleeping purposes.
In cases of viral diseases such as measles, mumps, chicken pox, or very serious conditions such as TB or hepatitis, boys are removed as soon as possible from Los Prietos Boys' Camp. Nurse Alexander noted that all boys received at Los Prietos are required to have a physical examination at Juvenile Hall prior to delivery to Los Prietos. Such exams preclude admission of boys with symptoms of a serious condition.
In conclusion, it should be noted that Los Prietos Boys' Camp has received California Medical Association accreditation (a bi-annual review) in both 1993 and 1995. This verifies that the Los Prietos Boys' Camp program is in compliance with standards established by the California Medical Association for "Health Services in Juvenile Detention Facilities". Given the above, we appreciate the Grand Jury's concerns, but do not concur with the specific recommendation as our practices are approved by the current health care providers at the facility, and are also consistent with State standards.
cc: Spencer Boise, Grand Jury Foreman
Kent Taylor, County Administrator
Probation Administrative Staff