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Santa Cruz Grand Jury Suggests Transitioning Juvenile Hall into a Homeless Services Center
by Santa Cruz News
Wednesday Jul 8th, 2020 5:14 PM
In it's report, "Homelessness: Big Problem, Little Progress: It's Time To Think Outside The Box," the 2019-2020 Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury suggests transitioning Juvenile Hall in Felton into a, "treatment and multi-faceted supportive services center for homeless individuals". The Civil Grand Jury report cited low incarceration numbers at Juvenile Hall in Felton compared to the number of staff members required to operate the facility, and noted that decreasing youth incarceration rates across the State of California has led to other counties closing their juvenile detention centers. "The Grand Jury believes this would be a better use of resources and more appropriate than using the County Jail to house addicted and mentally ill individuals," the report states. Photo: Juvenile Hall in Felton.
juvenile_hall_felton_ca_santa_cruz_county.jpg
The 2019-2020 Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury made the following recommendation concerning the transition of Juvenile Hall in its report:

"Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors should request the Santa Cruz County Administrative Officer investigate and report on the viability of converting the underutilized County Juvenile Hall campus, located at 3650 Graham Hill Rd, Felton, CA into a facility focused on fulfilling crucial homeless, mental health and substance abuse needs by December 31, 2020."

The overall purpose of the 2019-2020 Civil Grand Jury's report "Homelessness: Big Problem, Little Progress: It's Time To Think Outside The Box" was centered on, "understanding why, after spending tens of millions of dollars, the number of homeless remains high," according to the report. In addition, the Grand Jury, "sought to understand the extent of the homeless problem, and identify areas needing improvement," the report states.

The section of the report concerning the transition of Juvenile Hall is titled, "Who’s Not Sleeping In Those Beds?":

"Every year the Grand Jury is required to inspect the detention facilities in Santa Cruz County, and in January 2020, the Grand Jury inspected the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall in Felton. During that inspection the Grand Jury discovered the SCCO Juvenile Hall is following the state wide trend of lower youth incarceration rates. In California the youth crime rate has decreased so dramatically that from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019 the bookings in California Juvenile Halls decreased by 11%. In March 2019, 70% of California juvenile detention beds were unoccupied. This has led to other counties consolidating, closing, and reconsidering the future of their juvenile facilities.

"On the day the Grand Jury inspected the SCCO Juvenile Hall, the staff provided the Grand Jury with details about the facility, staff, and inmates. The Grand Jury learned that at the time of the inspection, there were 10 youth incarcerated, with 22 full time staff and 16 additional on-call staff to support the facility. The Grand Jury also learned the average number of youth incarceration at the SCCO Juvenile Hall is 15 per day, and in addition, the facility supports roughly 300 youth receiving probation services.

"With a budget of nearly $5,000,000, a large facility with very low usage, and the trend toward consolidating juvenile halls and even closing them down, the Grand Jury suggests the County consider transitioning the use of SCCO Juvenile Hall and the surrounding property into a treatment and multi-faceted supportive services center for homeless individuals. The Grand Jury believes this would be a better use of resources and more appropriate than using the County Jail to house addicted and mentally ill individuals."


More information about the Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury:
https://www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/Departments/GrandJury.aspx
sm_santa-cruz-county-juvenile-probation-report-2018-hall-felton.jpg
Photo from the report shows the decease in the rate of youth incarceration in Santa Cruz County, compared to the increase in community based interventions.
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