TO: The Hon. Rodney S. Melville
FROM: Susan J. Gionfriddo, Chief Probation Officer
June 5, 1995
RE: Response to 1994-95 Grand Jury Report re: Juvenile Halls
Please accept the following as my official response to the 1994-95 Grand Jury "Juvenile Halls Report", which was released on April 5, 1995.
RECOMMENDATION # 1: The Board of Supervisors take immediate action to provide f or an increase in the capacity of the North County Juvenile Hall to a minimum of eighty beds, with commensurate staff.
RESPONSE: Indeed, the size of the North County facility has been inadequate since its inception in March of 1977. This need for a larger facility has been historically documented and in fact was cited in the Justice Facilities Master Plan in December 1993. This report was prepared by Jay Farbstein Assoc. upon authorization of the Board of Supervisors. Approximately 70% of the 2231 minors detained in the two Juvenile Halls in 1994 were from north county. Presently, the average daily attendance for the Juvenile Hall is 71. Therefore, the twenty bed Santa Maria Juvenile Hall cannot service the north county volume. The 56 bed Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall primarily houses north county minors awaiting a disposition in Juvenile Court. Fortunately, we have been able to utilize the large south county facility for housing the north county detention population overflow, by instituting regular transportation shuttles between facilities. This accommodation presents troublesome logistics issues in trying to maintain classification separation, maintain security, and provide the minors, presence at court hearings, which are most always scheduled in north county for north county residents.
The Probation Department is trying very hard to utilize all other assets it has to try to offset this inadequacy. As you are aware, we utilize programs such as Home Supervision, House Arrest, Electronic Monitoring, Weekend Work Programs, and community based diversion programs to alleviate overcrowding, while keeping minors under supervision. An intake screening tool is used to consistently apply detention criteria pursuant to Section 628 of the welfare and Institutions Code.
57% of the minors under supervision by the Probation Department reside in north county. 2231 minors were detained in the Juvenile Halls in 1994 compared to 1620 minors in 1993. This is an increase of 38%. Additionally, the average length of stay has increased. In 1994, the average length of stay in the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall was 18.73 days and 7.34 days at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall. In 1993, the average length of stay in the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall was 14.38 days and 6.47 days at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall. (The reason these numbers vary so much between facilities is due to the ongoing transfer of minors from the North County Hall to the South County Hall, which houses the bulk of the detention population. ) This computes to a 25% increase in the average length of stay during a two year period. All of this data points to the inadequacy of the 20 bed Santa Maria Juvenile Hall. It is a credit to staff that we have been able to provide quality services to the increased volume of minors in Juvenile Hall detention, concurrently using the other aforementioned programs.
Finally, the Probation Department has been in contact with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Is Department with regard to sharing the site which hopefully will contain a new North County Jail facility and a new North County Juvenile Hall. It remains unclear when this effort will be finalized relative to funding.
RECOMMENDATION # 2: The Board of Supervisors immediately authorize and fund additional juvenile officers to the North County Juvenile Hall to adequately staff the night shift.
RESPONSE: The staffing on the night shift (or graveyard shift) at the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall is consistent with the California Youth Authority "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, 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 supervision 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 wideawake child supervision staff member on duty for each 10 minors in detention.
(2) During the hours that minors are asleep, one wideawake child supervision staff member on duty for each 30 minors in detention.
(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 have two staff on duty for that shift.
The statement in Finding # 2 of the Grand Jury Report (" The Grand Jury agrees that the North County Juvenile Hall is understaffed. This is substantiated by the Santa Barbara County justice Facilities Short Term Master Plan by Jay Farbstein of December 23, 1993.") appears to be misunderstood. The Farbstein Report referenced actually refers to the operationally inefficient design of the facility which requires us to deploy a higher number of staffed positions than the minimum standards actually require.
On occasion, additional staff are called in on this shift pursuant to the California Medical Association standard that a severely intoxicated minor must be awakened periodically to make certain that he is breathing properly. Staff have always had the ability to call in additional staffing whenever emergencies occur and whenever the group is disruptive. Also, the proximity of the Sheriff 's substation next door allows for immediate response/backup whenever necessary in other emergency conditions.
RECOMMENDATION # 3: All juveniles being transported should be three-way shackled.
RESPONSE: Department policy is to apply restraints when transporting minors on a case by case basis pursuant to a security classification system. The Court has been in agreement with said procedure.
RECOMMENDATION # 4a: The Santa Barbara County Probation Department request of the Court that it provide a court facility and Juvenile Court Commission for the South County Juvenile Hall similar to that in the North County Juvenile Hall.
RESPONSE: An arrangement at the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall for Juvenile Court similar to the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall's close proximity to same would be very beneficial for the operation of the Probation Department. However, the Department does not function in isolation and the needs of the other Departments and Courts in the Juvenile Justice system must be considered. The Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall site is currently inadequate as to building capacity, parking, and quarters for Court staff and attorneys. This matter continues to be under discussion.
RECOMMENDATION # 4b: As another Alternative, the Grand Jury recommends that the Probation Department consider the use of closed circuit television between the downtown court complex and the Juvenile Hall for all judicial purposes other than trial.
RESPONSE: Funding has been secured to expand closed circuit television to the Juvenile Halls and to other Probation Department facilities in the near future. However, the purpose of this expansion is not for judicial purposes. Such consideration would clearly be a matter for the various elements of the Juvenile Justice system to resolve within the confines of legal regulations.
I would welcome the opportunity to further discuss or clarify any of these issues at your pleasure.
cc: Kent Taylor, County Administrator
Robert Glick, Grand Jury Foreman