The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities, camps, and parole programs are operated at public expense to give juveniles and other at-risk youths opportunities for change.
The law mandates DJJ to:
In general, youths are referred to DJJ by the juvenile court where the offense occurred. Therefore, these youths are entitled to many protections awarded by the juvenile justice system. These protections may extend to youths that are over the age of 18. As a result, each request by a member of accredited media is individually reviewed to ensure that media contact does not interrupt or interfere with the juvenile court, Juvenile Parole Board (JPB) - ordered treatment, or does not in any way pose a security risk.
The public has a right and a duty to know how such facilities and programs are being operated. It is the policy of the DJJ, to the extent possible, to make known to the public through the news media relevant information pertaining to operations of the Division and facilities.
An accredited news media representative is defined as a reporter for a recognized and regularly published or broadcast newspaper, magazine, radio, or television station program, in possession of a picture identification card as an employee of that organization, working as a media representative.
The DJJ also recognizes the rights of non-news reporters or personnel, such as freelance writers, and producers of documentaries, to request access to facilities and youths, including all programs within the branches of the DJJ. Each of those requests must be pre-approved by the respective DJJ facility public information officer or superintendent, in consultation with the CDCR Office of Public and Employee Communications and handled on a case-by-case basis.
Below is a summary of DJJ regulations, policies, and procedures regarding media access and activities. Copies of these policies are available upon request.
Depending on a youth’s court commitment and age, the following data may be released:
Data may be released about a youth or parolee as long as the following conditions are met:
1.) The youth or parolee is at least 16 years of age and a criminal court commitment.
2.) The youth or parolee is housed at a DJJ facility or camp awaiting placement in an adult facility when the youth or parolee turns 18 years of age.
The following information shall be disclosed to any member of the public, upon request, by the Chief Deputy Secretary, the CDCR Assistant Secretary for Communications or their designee:
Note: This policy does not authorize the release of any information which would place a youth in peril, threaten DJJ security, or is exempt from disclosure pursuant to the information practices act.
(Reference: Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 1764)
Juvenile court documents, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 827, are confidential and are not to be released to the public, including reporters, without the expressed permission of the originating juvenile court (See Cimarusti v. Superior Court (2DCA 2000) 79 Cal. App. 4th 799).
Information on juvenile court commitment youths or parolees is confidential unless committed for one of the offenses outlined in Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 676.
Information on DJJ employees that may be released includes:
If the information requested of a peace officer staff is as a result of a newsworthy event and that event has led to a formal investigation of the employee, peace officers enjoy specific rights under the Peace Officers Bill of Rights (POBAR). POBAR will be consulted before any information is released on a peace officer under the employ of the DJJ who may be involved in an investigation.
(Reference: California Government Code, Sections 3300-3311)
Media representatives encountering a youth while covering the DJJ’s programs in general, may conduct a brief interview with a youth if:
A youth’s written permission must be obtained before his/her photograph is displayed and/or taken in a manner that individually identifies him/her to the public. This consent should be consistent, and follow protocols outlined in the section Disclosure of Youth Information.
(Reference: Title 15 Regulations, Section 4135)
All non-news motion picture, radio, or television programs produced at any DJJ facility must have prior approval. Non-news related productions include features, documentaries, news magazine programs, commercials, and pilots for proposed news, public information, religious and entertainment television programs. In each instance, it is mandatory that a location agreement and a California Film Commission permit be completed and submitted before any shooting date is determined.
The process for approval consideration begins with a written request to the CDCR Office of Public and Employee Communications. The request should include:
If project approval is given, a location agreement must be executed with the parent firm and a California Film Commission permit (To download the permit application in PDF format, you'll need Acrobat Reader. If you don't have it, download it free from Adobe.) will be required along with evidence of financial responsibility and liability insurance in the amount of at least $1 million with the State of California, its offices, employees, and agents as the "additional insureds." Part of the agreement provides for defending and indemnifying the state against any lawsuits.
Editorial researchers, freelance writers, authors of books, independent film makers, and other unaccredited media must provide proof of employment by an accredited publication/production company, or have evidence that an accredited publication/production company has contracted to, or expressed interest toward purchase of the completed project. Youths may participate in specific person, face-to-face interviews only after appropriate consents are signed and the request has been reviewed to determine if this visit would be detrimental to the treatment process or court-ordered activities.
A minimum of 10 working days is required for approval of the least complicated request. There are no assurances that access will be granted. The DJJ does try to accommodate requests within available resources consistent with the safe and secure operations of its facilities and camps.
The Office of Public and Employee Communications, located at CDCR headquarters in Sacramento, articulates the DJJ’s position on issues, manages crisis communications, serves as a liaison to the media, and releases information to the public. The office will coordinate media requests made under the California Public Records Act.
The Press Office also provides other services to media:
Media representatives needing information about a youth committed to or released from a DJJ facility or camp can call the Office of Public and Employee Communications at (916) 445-4950. The full name and the date of birth of the person being researched are required. Commitment offense and time served and/or release information on a youth that has been housed at DJJ will be responded to in a timely manner, and will be prioritized by deadline urgency.
The Office of Public and Employee Communications maintains a library of stock video footage, and makes these available to the media upon request. Current and archived footage and photographs of correctional facilities and programs, including restricted or limited access areas such as control booths, guard towers, and lockup programs may be available. Please feel free to ask.
The Communications Office responds to inquiries from the media. Facts are gathered as quickly as possible and provided to the inquirer. If the requested facts are not known or are otherwise unavailable, we will provide that information.
DJJ's Web site - contains press releases and other general information about the DJJ’s facilities and camps, programs, treatment services, and reform efforts. It also includes information about the history of the DJJ, our mission statement, contact information for the various divisions and program areas, research and statistics for the youth population, and more!
The regulations governing DJJ are found in Title 15, the California Code of Regulations, Sections 4000 through 4857. These regulations can be found by visiting https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/.
In the event of an actual or suspected escape, the public information officer or designee at the facility shall notify radio and television stations and newspapers in the surrounding communities and the missing youth’s home community. In addition, the DJJ Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services will immediately inform victims and their immediate family who have placed themselves on a notification list to be updated on any developments in the youth’s stay at DJJ. The facility or camp will provide the missing youth’s physical description, estimated time of disappearance, an identification photograph, and a summary of the facility's search efforts and cooperation with law enforcement agencies.