State’s Largest Youth Correctional Facility, Heman G. Stark, to Close
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today announced that it will close the state’s largest facility for juvenile offenders, the Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility in Chino, as a cost-cutting move in response to a declining population as more youth are committed to county facilities. The move is part of a broader staffing model being implemented by the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) designed to better align the make-up of its professional staff with the treatment needs of its current population and to reflect its reduced operational expenses.
The staffing model will ensure that the DJJ has the right combination of employee classifications and sufficient number of staff to treat the current population. The complex process to “right-size” the DJJ staff ultimately is expected to eliminate more than 400 positions – or nearly 14 percent of its workforce – by December 2009. Savings are estimated at $30-$40 million.
“These changes will allow the DJJ to operate more effectively and efficiently as the state adapts to changes in our youth population and meet the treatment requirements established by the courts,” said CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate. “This new DJJ business plan includes closures and realignment of staff that will allow the state to significantly reduce the cost per youthful offender of providing custody, treatment, and services.”
The closure of the Heman G. Stark facility and the staff changes are intended to meet a commitment made earlier this year by CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate to reduce treatment costs per youth from $252,000 to a goal of $175,000.
The Heman G. Stark facility, which opened in 1959, currently houses slightly less than 400 youth who will be redirected to other DJJ facilities with a goal of retaining as many youth as possible in Southern California. The facility is expected to be re-used for adult inmates by CDCR’s Division of Adult Institutions. The timing of the conversion is yet to be decided.
The number of youthful offenders in the DJJ has declined over the last decade, from a peak of nearly 10,000 to its current population of approximately 1,700, largely due to legislation (SB 81 and AB 191) that resulted in most youthful offenders being committed to county facilities.
Although the DJJ population represent less than half of one percent of all youths arrested in California, it includes those with the most violent criminal backgrounds and who have exceptional treatment needs that cannot be addressed by county programs. Also, unlike nearly all other juvenile justice programs in the nation, the DJJ can retain youth to the age of 25 if they are not remanded to an adult prison at the age of 18.
Another distinction of the juvenile system that sets it apart from adult prisons is its network of accredited schools that provide youth with the same education they would receive in public schools, in addition to counseling and treatment programs.
Since 2006, the DJJ has been reforming its programs to meet treatment levels outlined in a series of six remedial plans, the result of a legal settlement supervised by the Alameda Superior Court. The plans set treatment and staffing requirements for medical and mental health care, education, sexual behavior treatment, preserving the safety and welfare of youth, and for accommodating wards with disabilities. To comply with those requirements, DJJ is developing new treatment models that emphasize more interaction between DJJ youth and staff with more intervention and counseling and less use of force to prevent crisis and improve rehabilitation.
“We have been making tremendous progress in reforming the juvenile justice program,” said Bernard Warner, Chief Deputy Secretary of the Division of Juvenile Justice. “As a result, our facilities are much safer and less violent and more youth are receiving an education and treatment while they are in our care.”
The closure of Heman G. Stark is consistent with realignments that have been underway in the division in recent years as the population has been reduced. The DJJ has closed eight locations, including facilities in Stockton, Whittier, Mariposa, Nevada City, Santa Cruz, and Paso Robles in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2008 respectively.
The closure of Heman G. Stark Correctional Center in San Bernardino County, announced today, is consistent with realignments that have been underway in the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in recent years. Since 2003, DJJ has closed five facilities in Stockton, Whittier and Paso Robles and three conservation camps located in Mariposa, Nevada and Santa Cruz counties. When the closure of Heman G. Stark as a juvenile facility is completed, the DJJ will continue to operate five facilities and two conservation camps.
The closures include:
September, 2003: Karl Holten Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Center, Stockton, Ca.
February, 2004: Northern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic, Sacramento
May, 2004: Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility, Whittier
July, 2008: El Paso de Robles, Paso Robles, Stockton
Dewitt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility, Stockton
August, 2009: Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility (announced)
The remaining DJJ facilities include:
N.A.Chadjerian Youth Correctional Facility, Stockton
O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility, Stockton
Preston Youth Correctional Facility, Ione
Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, Camarillo
Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic, Norwalk
The DJJ also operates two conservation camps
Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp, Pine Grove
S. Carraway Public Service and Fire Center, Camarillo