The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have approved a $4.5 million redesign of a juvenile camp for girls in Santa Clarita, aiming to create a homey environment that supports a therapeutic approach for kids under the county’s care.
Behind the perimeter fence of Camp Joseph Scott on Bouquet Canyon Road is a detention-style dormitory that was built in 1966 to house up to 110 minors.
County authorities said the daily population ranges from 25 to 35 youth who sleep in an open, barracks-like room built around a central monitoring station. Shared showers and toilets are also in the open.
The new design includes four small, cottage-like housing modules with two six-bed sleeping rooms each and shared living and laundry rooms. Restroomswill have individual showers and toilets.
“The hope of the new design is to … promote a small group, family-type treatment facility, utilizing cottages instead of the current large dormitory design,” said David Mitchell, acting deputy chief of the Juvenile Institutions/Residential Treatment Services Bureau. “This design allows the department to more effectively provide evidence-based, small group cognitive interventions and pro-social supportive services in a more therapeutic environment.”
The living arrangement is expected to build closer relationships and potentially reduce recidivism.
“Separating the young ladies into small living cottages endorses more personalized interaction with the youth and the staff that provide services to them,” Mitchell said. “The new design will enhance privacy, personal relationships and communication skills between the youth and creates a family-type living environment.”
The camp will also include group counseling rooms, a mental health office and a medical exam room and Mitchell said the design will allow targeted treatment, better integration of services and more family engagement.
During construction, juvenile offenders will be moved to Camp Kenyon Scudder in Santa Clarita. Scudder has capacity for 85 minors and a daily population that ranges between 26 and 32 minors.
Construction is expected to begin in six to nine months and take roughly two years to complete.
The population at county juvenile camps has dropped dramatically over more than a decade, following a national trend of falling crime rates and reforms that rely on community-based programs for low-level offenders.
About 20,000 minors are supervised by the Probation Department, roughly 1,200 of those in the agency’s 13 residential treatment camps and three juvenile halls.
The department has been the subject of multiple federal investigationand oversight actions related to abusive conditions in the camps and halls. Many reforms have been made, including a revamp of educational programs and improved staff ratios and training, but enough problems remain that the board is considering a permanent watchdog commission.