Camp Kilpatrick juvenile detention near Malibu will increase number of ‘residents’ from 11 to 42

The impetus to transition Camp Kilpatrick to a new type of facility referred to as a “Secure Youth Treatment Facility (SYTF)” began with the state’s announcement in 2020 that it was handing juvenile matters and facilities over to the counties. A number of Malibu residents and other nearby cities objected to bringing the more violent offenders so close to town — especially because Kilpatrick is a minimum security facility and has not yet been retrofitted as a “secure” facility.

In the meantime, inspectors for the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) presented a report on Feb. 9 showing that LA County Probation’s two main youth lockups — Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall and Central Juvenile Hall — were out of compliance in a total of 39 very basic areas; resulting in the neglect of those youthful prisoners in terms of activities, education, decent food and staff shortages.

If the state orders LA County to shut down its juvenile halls due to that non-compliance, state regulators could move youths to juvenile detention facilities in other counties or into adult facilities — which most experts agree is not the best thing for those young people.

The probation department has also suffered from a perceived failure of leadership for decades. After resisting calls for his resignation after failing to fire any of the probation officers involved in a serious incident of “child abuse” caught on tape at Malibu’s Camp Kilpatrick in 2020, LA County Probation Department chief Adolfo Gonzales was fired on March 7 by the LA Board of Supervisors. He was the ninth head of the department in 20 years.

Looking for a quick turnaround of the department before the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Department closure in July, Malibu’s newly-elected County Supervisor Lindsay Horvath, along with Supervisor Janice Hahn, co-wrote the motion regarding the county’s 17 juvenile justice facilities, including the Camp Kilpatrick juvenile detention center located at 427 Encinal Canyon Road in Malibu.

Horvath and Hahn wrote in the Board of Supervisors agenda for the March 21 meeting: “Much time over the last three years has been devoted to identifying the sites that will serve as SYTFs (secure facilities). Every proposed site has been met with community resistance and threats of litigation. Nevertheless, the Department and the Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant (JJRBG) Subcommittee continued their work and have now submitted a set of recommendations to the board. 

“Likewise, the Board persisted in its decision to use Campus Kilpatrick as a SYTF. Through a process of careful and thoughtful consideration, and a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) assessment, the Department moved a very small group of young men to Campus Kilpatrick. In the months since the Department initiated this effort, the young men have thrived at Campus Kilpatrick and there has not been a single incident that would give rise to any concerns about continuing to use Campus Kilpatrick as an SYTF. In fact, the only incident of concern that has been reported about Campus Kilpatrick occurred before its use as an SYTF. Upon completion of pending security enhancements, Campus Kilpatrick is ready to serve as an SYTF to more young people.

“In contrast to the success of Campus Kilpatrick, the other location being used as an SYTF, Barry J. Nidorf, is sorely lacking the core components of a successful program: dedicated staff and meaningful programming. The staffing is also an issue at Campus Kilpatrick. Even though Campus Kilpatrick has capacity for 42 young people, there are only 11 housed there presently. This is partly due to state-mandated security enhancements, which are pending. But even if those security enhancements were completed instantaneously, the Department cannot properly staff Campus Kilpatrick at capacity due to the lack of staff housing. Housing accommodations for staff are a benefit bestowed in the County (but not other counties) to accommodate another benefit — the 56-hour work week. Campus Kilpatrick was intentionally designed for a traditional work week or, at the very least, a hybrid staff schedule because all the research that informed the LA Model demonstrated that the 56-hour work week is not conducive to therapeutic treatment models.”

The board’s motion regarding Camp Kilpatrick, which passed unanimously on March 21, declared that the security enhancements needed at Campus Kilpatrick would be expedited; and that as soon as they were completed, a multidisciplinary assessment Team (MDT) would allow the department to increase the SYTF population at Campus Kilpatrick to 20 young people until staffing and housing accommodations were in place to support the full capacity of 42.

Other motions introduced and passed by the Board of Supervisors at last week’s meeting include reducing the number of total teens in juvenile facilities by identifying those who can be safely released, finding suitable places to house youth offenders arriving from state youth prisons, and shoring up the Department of Youth Development rehabilitation agency.

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