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Minutes of Juvenile Probation Commission Retreat

Sat. August 28, 1999

1.      Roll Call

Comm. Julian called the meeting to order at 9:24 am.  All Commissioners were present.  Chief Williams, Sandy Brown Richardson, Janet Medina, Bob Wertz, Johnny Miller were present for the Dept.

2.      President’s introduction and overview

Comm. Julian simply welcomed everyone and said that it is always good to sit and periodically review in depth the work of the Commission/Dept so that people are sure current and past actions are consistent with getting to the future targets (just as it is important to re visit those targets to make sure they are still relevant).

3.      Discussion of:

a.       Department action plan

The Chief reported that the Dept Action Plan won’t be ready until Sept. 8. Instead, Chief Williams passed out copies of performance objectives for each division director (copy available at JPC office).  It is still evolving, but will give a sense of the types of goals each division will have.

Comm. Julian asked about the reports back from the single day conferences run by the Dept.  Chief Williams said he hasn’t read them closely but on first perusal they looked good.  He will discuss them with Cheyenne Bell when she returns from vacation.

Comm. Jackson-Drake asked about the Aftercare Program.  Johnny said that reviewing the performance of the contract, it is apparent community based agencies have no “legal” muscle to enforce participation by the youth coming out of Log Cabin Ranch, so by bringing it back “in-house” the Dept might be able to get better response from youth.  He also said that it would be more economical and the Dept could serve more kids.  The Dept is looking for a CBO to be a community anchor to the program.  This would be the place in the community the youth, as well as his family, could report.  If the program design works, it could be included in the next round of the TANF funding.

Comm. Arámburo asked about the long term plan for Log Cabin Ranch.   The Chief referred to the performance objectives for Johnny (#4)

Comm. Shimko asked to include in the day’s discussion, the topics of reducing average daily populations, and the realignment of the probation services division.

b.   Review and revision of last year’s Commission priorities  not dealt with

c.   Emerging issues in the field  not specifically dealt with

d.   Emerging issues in this Department

i.        New facility

  Comm. Hale commented that the continued declarations by Coleman Advocates regarding the Department’s detention population has reached the level of mindless prattle, with the most recent cry for 60 or less (as the only measure of success).  The exact word used by Comm. Hale was “dumb!.”

Chief Williams reported that the Gov. had signed a budget item  which included an additional $77 mil., statewide, for new beds/juvenile facilities, of which $15 mil is slated for SF. The last time around when the plans for a facility were laid out (for Board of Corrections), the estimated cost was $43 mil.  Given the availability of the $15mil, this would leave SF with the need to provide $28 mil.  The Chief, Janet Medina, Don Toomer, Thatbiti Mtambuzi met about this.  The Dept. is working with the “Value Engineering Team” of the Mayor’s office in budget projections.  The Dept might go visit some other facilities to get an idea of what could be bought for the money  (Colorado, Santa Cruz were mentioned).   Question: where would the balance of funds come from.  Ans.  General Fund. 

Discussion regarding the size and location of a new facility included the potential of relocating the facility to another neighborhood, exchanging property between departments (eg. Rec and Parks).  A suggestion for the Chief to get in touch with Jim Morales at the Redevelopment Agency.  Comm. Dupré will call Willie Kennedy in regards to possibility of Bayview as a site.

Despite the fact that the Commission feels a bond measure would be doable, the Mayor doesn’t want to go that route.

ii.   Alternatives to traditional juvenile justice system

  Chief Williams said that this concept (Balanced and Restorative Justice)  was going to be used to get CBOs to look at the way they do work with kids, to see how they can help keep kids out of custody.  This Dept will work with the Sheriff’s office because they have already begun to do some things in this regards, in certain neighborhoods.  The issue of Beacon Centers came up.  Chief Williams was unhappy with the fact that there is no firm accounting of where the Dept’s funds—given to the DCYF--- went, nor that any acknowledgment was made that the Dept contributed to Beacon Ctrs.  A total of $450K was given. In this year, another $500K is planned to be given to them in the upcoming TANF cycle.

Commissioners were concerned that Dept funds are disbursed to others without a specificity that would clearly show where and how the funds would be used.

Comm. Dupré offered to convene a meeting with the directors of the Beacon Centers, with the Chief to discuss what more can be done with probation kids in the Beacon Centers.

Comm. Hale suggested more relationship be established between Beacon Centers and Rec and Parks.  Comm. Julian offered to contact the Rec and Parks Commission to pursue any ideas along this line.  Comm. Hale also raised the option of having money for families to apply for to run innovative programs.

Chief Williams said that they are looking to contract with NCCD to produce a document (a Departmental Strategic Plan) that will encompass all of the activities and plans the Dept. is involved in.

[Aside: Dept is doing background checks on employees now.  While it takes more time, it is revealing and helpful in assuring safe and appropriate staff.]

The Dept is asking for a dedicated fingerprint machine so it can do those on site. 

Comm. Chuck wanted to see somewhere that the Dept. could be seen as the leading edge in the reforms of this city’s juvenile justice system, and how to involve many more student interns to do it.  Comm. Julian mentioned the few student interns he has referred to Cheyenne, and would also like to see this fully developed. 

The Commission discussed briefly having Rec and Park involved with the Dept. 

Comm. Dupré wanted to have a flowchart/fact sheet which can capture the total picture of the Dept’s activities, for the public. 

iii.    Local Action Plan (LAP)

The discussion began primarily around the Community Assessment Referral Center (CARC) and what it should be, and what it was meant to be.  The process by which it came to be was recounted and what its future may be was projected.  The perception that the Dept , as well as the Commission, is not in support of it is unsubstantiated. In fact, the Dept has had to take on primary roles in the accomplishment of the LAP: eg. Girls’ Residential program, Life Learning Center, while it has worked in all the other projects of the LAP.  Comm. Arámburo and Comm. Hale met with Margaret Brodkins regarding CARC.  Main issues that the Commission should concentrate on are:  should the CBO be Delancey St. or some other org. Should the CARC be in the Tenderloin.  Who should be the final authority over CARC or the other projects.  What will happen to it when the funding runs out—in order to incorporate it into the Dept’s annual budget, this discussion needs to happen 18 mos before a budget yr.  Despite these questions, the LAP is only one experimental aspect of the total resources/attention being paid to juvenile justice, and the Commission should not spend inordinate amounts of time on just the issue of the LAP.  

Some of the thoughts of the Commission were that the Dept has its own “local action plan” which is more comprehensive than the one by Delancey St. and if the LAP intersects the Dept’s, then the Dept. will be involved. 

Comm. Dupré suggested that the Chief call a meeting with the others regarding transitioning of LAP projects beyond Bd of Corrections funding.

    iv. Out-of-home placement alternatives

The issue is a large one, and encompasses many entities on various levels, from local probation/human services depts to courts, providers, state legislation and monitors. One question is whether there are too many being referred to out of home placements.  Another is the multi tiered scale of charging for services.  Still another is the appropriateness of placement choices.  And is there any means of preventing group homes from returning kids they don’t want.  Is ‘home’ placement a potential option.  The courts are another aspect of the problem. All questions are being looked at, but the Chief says it’s hard to get a handle on it because it connects to other aspects of probation work.  Under the Children’s System of Care, the Dept’s ROPP program, and other collaborative efforts, there may be other options to group home placements.

Additionally, the question of the efficacy of out of home placements (not group homes, but institutions such as Glen Mills School in Pennsylvania) was discussed.  Was Log Cabin Ranch a similar option?  Do kids do better in out of state placements than at Log Cabin Ranch?  Costs?

     v.  Juvenile Hall population control

The Chief reported that they are doing daily reviews of kids who come in to ascertain how many kids could be released without further delays, to reduce unecessary detention.  They have found there are kids which they can expedite release for.  This is the first step.  The second step is to use a PO  (Kwaanza Morton, who used to direct DDAP) to look at individual cases to see what recommendations can be made to release the kids quickly and link them up to community services.  The question came up regarding the contract with DDAP to do just what the Chief was describing.  The Chief said that the contract with DDAP was never implemented. He said that CJCJ was just a broker of services, contracting with other CBOs to provide programs that they did not do themselves.  This is something the Dept could do. 

The Chief said that they are talking with the Youth Law Center regarding crowding issues in Juvenile Hall, to use some of the information they have to try managing population in the hall.  The issue of Disproportionate Minority Confinement will be addressed at the same time the population issue is dealt with.

The Chief also mentioned the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, which is another thing the Youth Law Center is working on, and he mentioned that Sacramento was one of three most successful sites dealing with this issue.  The Chief further said that the Youth Law Center may even identify some monies to give the Dept a full blown technical assistance grant to do the same thing.  But if not, the Dept can use TANF funds to do it.  All of these things will come to fruition by the end of this calendar year.

In the meantime, Comm. Jackson-Drake reiterated that the Commission and Dept should not be overly concerned with negative comments from the media and some organizations because they make a living from criticizing others.

vi.    Realignment of Probation Services

The Chief is turning to community based, school based supervision, by assigning PO’s to several schools and community based organizations.  The details were not ironed out yet.  There is no design currently for longitudinal supervision (having the same PO assigned to a youth, regardless of how many times the youth comes into the system).

Comm. Hale asked about economic programs. Especially about establishing vocational programs at Log Cabin Ranch.  Connect the Dept with SFSU or City College where kids coming out of the Dept programs are hired by them.

Comm. Julian asked who would be taking the initiative on this issue. Comm. Hale said that the Program Committee will be looking at the “La Honda programs” in its meetings.

4.      Public Comments    There were none

5.      Adjournment     The meeting was adjourned at 3:05 pm