Facility closure meant to improve efficiency
CDCR officially closed the doors of the Heman G Stark Youth Correctional Facility, ending 50 years of treating juvenile offenders. The Feb. 22, 2010, move marks the beginning of the institution’s transition to exclusively house adult inmates.
Closing the Chino facility, which had been the state’s largest for juvenile offenders, is the first of two cost-cutting moves. The changes are designed to improve efficiency of the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).
The 400 youth previously housed at Chino were consolidated into five other DJJ-operated facilities and two fire camps.
Bernard Warner, Chief Deputy Secretary for Juvenile Justice, said the move is about better serving the youth committed to DJJ.
“Closing the facility improves our efficiency as we provide specialized treatment to DJJ youth,” he said.
Facility named after Heman Stark, the longest serving CYA director
Opened in 1960, the facility was considered a modern model for rehabilitating youth. Also, the facility operated as many as 25 vocational trade programs, teaching youth employable skills. At its peak, it housed approximately 2,000 youth, nearly a fifth of the 10,000 youth committed to state custody.
The population decline over the last decade reflects reductions in the statewide number of juvenile offenders committed to DJJ. Financial incentives to counties,
Based on the belief that juvenile offenders benefit by being housed closer to their families, counties are offered financial incentives. Combined with legislation that changed DJJ’s mission, the statewide population has fallen to about 1,500.
Houses youth convicted of violent offenses
Although the DJJ population represents less than 1% of the 225,000 youth arrested in California, it includes youth convicted of the most violent offenses. Additionally, they have exceptional treatment needs that cannot be met by local programs. The DJJ is also one of the few juvenile offender programs nationwide that treats youth to the age of 25 rather than 21.
DJJ provides treatment programs for mental health, substance abuse, as well as sexual behavior. Also, an accredited school district provides specialized education, including GED and high school diplomas.
To reduce costs and improve effectiveness of treatment and education programs, DJJ will complete a “right-sizing” of its staff. In the next few weeks, the smaller population and staff reduction also meets reforms in six court-supervised remedial plans. Those plans, supervised by the Alameda Superior Court in a settlement agreement of the Farrell v Cate lawsuit, require significant program changes. The agreement also set staffing levels for professionals, such as counselors, teachers, and physical and mental health professionals, to provide treatment and care.
When completed, DJJ will reduce overall staffing by an estimated 425 positions and reduce costs by $30-$40 million.
Heman Stark facility repurposed as adult reception center
CDCR is currently occupying the facility as a reception center to serve incoming adult inmates and will be renovating the facility in the near future to support a long term occupancy. The department has been working closely with local leaders during the planning stages of this conversion.
The closure of facility is consistent with realignments in the Division of Juvenile Justice for most of the last decade as the juvenile offender population committed to the state has declined.
DJJ has closed eight other facilities or fire camps in Stockton, Whittier, Mariposa, Nevada City, Santa Cruz and Paso Robles between 2003 and 2008.