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Tuesday, 22 January 2008 23:34

Stockton Youth Correctional Facility to Close

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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced earlier this month that two Division of Juvenile Justice facilities will close by July 2008 as a result of a trend of declining ward populations and recently enacted legislation. The two facilities scheduled to close are the El Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility, in Paso Robles, and the Dewitt Nelson Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, which includes youth offenders from Amador County. The approximate population at DeWitt Nelson is 259 youth from 18 to 25 years of age.

The facility is proposed to be closed by July 31, 2008. “The state’s juvenile offender population has been declining in recent years.” said James Tilton, Secretary of Department of Corrections.  “Legislation signed last year will allow us to focus on those youths with the greatest risk and needs while accommodating a shift in the population designed to keep most youth in their home communities.”  In September, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a law realigning the types of wards the state will receive and treat, based on the severity of the offenses committed. 

Effectively, this keeps offenders formerly referred for less serious crimes in their county of commitment, ensuring that juvenile offenders who have committed less serious offenses receive treatment closer to home and near family support. As the youth offender population drops, the result will be a higher concentration of youth who are sexual offenders, more violent, and/or gang entrenched. Efforts are underway to develop a system-wide plan for appropriate long-term facilities. The Department of Corrections has also assembled a team of specialists to find jobs for the 800 staff impacted by the closures.  No specific reuse of either facility slated for closure has been identified, however the Department of Corrections has initiated a survey to see how the existing facilities could best serve the state and local communities. For more information on juvenile facilities in the state, please visit the Department of Corrections website at www.cdcr.ca.gov.

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