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Juvenile Probation Department
Juvenile Probation Department
MINUTES OF SPECIAL MEETING MAY 19, 2001
Held at building 989 Ft. Point National Historic Monument, The Presidio San Francisco
The minutes of this meeting set forth all actions taken by the Commission on the matters stated, but not necessarily the chronological sequence in which the matters were taken up
1. (ACTION) Roll Call
The meeting was called to order at 10:10am by Pres. Hale. Comms. Grossman, Ricci, Aramburo, Chuck were present. Comms. Drake and Dupre were excused
2. (DISCUSSION) Commission Annual Statement of Purpose [per SF Charter section 4.102(2).
INTRODUCTION: This is the 3rd retreat held in 4 yrs for the Commission, to review what has been going on in the Dept and with the Commission, problems and progress, and to lay out principal concerns that it feels the Commission should address. What is set forward in this agenda is a general statement of what the Commission feels should be the undergirding of its immediate attention, and the ensuing discussions futher developed those topics.
Comm. Hale began by giving his impressions of his meeting with the Mayor. There were several points brought out that he felt the Mayor was in support of: the work at improving LCR, and finding mental health placements for youth. The issue of the budget was also talked about, and Comm. Hale concluded that the Commission needed to do more outreach and education with the Bd of Supes regarding this topic because they are not aware that the money supporting the CBOs have a sunset and need to be replaced soon. He asked if individual Commisioners can "walk the halls" of city hall and find Supervisors to talk with.
The Chief noted that he has attended most of the Finance Comm. (Bd of Supes) hearings in different community sites,and they have been very well attended by community people.
It was discussed that the Commissioners needed to have immediate, summary information regarding the programs supported by the Dept and how they are doing, when they talk to Supervisors or anyone else, they can directly refer to. The Chief said that by the end of the summer the PRIDE program should be able to knock out some data that can be used for this purpose.
Comm. Hale reviewed the agenda items. Comm. Grossman commented that the Commission needed to draft a set of goals and objectives for the year, as the Charter sets forth that the Commission needs to submit to the Mayor such a document. It has not been something previous commissions did. Comm. Arámburo commented that the Commission needs to take note of the power it has to manage the Dept. because the progress made to date may not be the result of good management as much as it is the serindipity of funding, and if we want to maintain the level of progress made, the management and direction of the Dept is critical (including what the Commission can do to set things right).
Comm. Hale set out the "struggle" between the Dept and the community advocates, that being the impression that Dept and the Commission are diametrically opposed to the interests of the community. Commissioners Grossman and Aramburo both agreed that it was normal for community advocates to be
politically aggressive about seeking alternatives to incarcerating youth. Commissioner Aramburo also believed that community advocates should hold the Commission and Department accountable for the needs of youths involved in the criminal justice system.. It’s just that "they" are very effective in their work, as misdirected as it might be.
The Chief suggested a few goals/objectives for the Commission. 1) ensuring the Dept uses its resources prudently and is accountable. 2) advocating for additional resources 3) educating the public about the accomplishments and future needs of the Dept.
He further stated that in general the issue of juvenile justice is not one on the minds of the public, that it hasn’t jumped out at any of the community hearings of the Finance Comm. with a few exceptions. He said the challenge was to keep the issue on the minds of the public so they are not ignorant when it becomes an issue.
Comm. Grossman said that the Commission needs to have the specific facts and figures in order to be an effective advocate for the Dept. It was discussed that the Commission needs to be more than just a booster squad for the Dept. It needs to be a solver of problems in the Dept, no matter who is complaining about the problem. There were comments that many parents are in support of activities of the Dept. eg. LCR, and need to be brought into the ranks of the supporters who can educate others about the Dept.
Comm. Ricci mentioned the growing numbers of Pilipinos involved in the system and need for services targeting them. Comm. Grossman wanted fact sheets on the mental health issues of the youth that the Dept needs to deal with. At different times there may be particular problems that need to be dealt with with concentrated forces, eg. mental health and placement, and when faced with that, the objective should be to quickly address it and find solutions so that things can move back to a less intense, more "normal" level..
Comm. Ricci said that one of the goals of the Commission should be for individual members to go out to the CBOs to see first hand what they are doing, to get the visibility of the Commission up.
As for the budget, it would be important for Commissioners to try and have compelling arguments when they talk to the Supes.
Before leaving for a Bd of Supe Finance hearing in the Bayview, Comm. Hale encouraged the remaining Comissioners to think about ways former Commissioners could be drawn together in an advisory capacity, to further extend the impact and influence current Commissioners could have on educating others in City government about Dept issues. James Loyce, Esperanza Echavarri, Don Clay were among those former members.
General summary: The Dept and the Commission have come far from the "dark" days of controversy, when both internal and external Dept detractors laid wide sweeping criticisms for how juvenile probation was treating those in its care. Those criticisms, both valid and erroneous, grabbed old precepts (from the 1987 Jefferson report) to more recent empirical evidence of poor practices, and the ever evolving Dept led to changes and the enlisting of more and more community based contractors to serve the Dept’s youth. Through several Federal and State grant programs, there are now more than 70 contracts with orgs and individuals to provide services to our youth, where in 1990 there were only 12 contracts.
Despite this, some detractors continue to blow hard and loud, calling for further deconstruction of the Dept and spreading of its annual budget to community based efforts. The Dept has made advances not only in bringing more community services into the mix, but its’ own efforts are improving. This latter part is not apparent to the general public, nor the current (newly elected) Bd of Supes. Thus, erroneous images still exist and adversely affect the Dept’s efforts. Thus, one of the understandings reached by the Commission is that both it AND the Dept needs to heighten its public information outreach, with a great many fact sheets and news dispatches so that this ignorance can be eliminated. This can only help in the budget process and throughout the year.
At the same time, the Dept needs to be able to identify critical points in the Dept’s work, so that these do not become fodder for those critics who would use them to rail against the Dept. Thus, the issue of LCR, over population in the Hall, lack of critical need beds, etc. An infusion of resources could help more quickly ameliorate the severity of those problems.
The Commission recessed at 12:30pm for lunch, and reconvened at 1:30pm
Commissioner Aramburo advised the Commission on the staffing needs of LCRS and YGC and the anticipated transition for LCRS. Commissioner Aramburo also advised the Commission of the need for improved placement services and mental health services for Level 12 to 14 children detained at YGC. There are staff changes occurring both in the Dept and with the schools. There will also be a ’student council’ established so they can have some role in the running of the school. Additionally, the County POs assigned to the ranch will be there more frequently. The emphasis will be on developing good, deep relationships with the youth, so appropriate guidance can be given. (a part of this is also getting more available psych assistance).
Comm. Hale had suggested getting parks and rec. to do programming there one day a week (rotating among rec ctrs from different communities, each taking a day a week). With the new changes the basic purpose and goals of the ranch will change from a correctional setting to an educational/training facility. But in the meantime, there will be a moratorium on any new referrals to the ranch while the situation settles down.
There has been an ongoing problem getting and keeping an ’on-call’ list of counselors for both the hall and the ranch. One reason for the problem of staffing is that SF pays less for counselors/POs than some surrounding jurisdictions. One suggestion was to look into enlisting staff from CBOs to act as "on-calls" for staffing needs in the Dept.
Placement Discussion: The Dept is currently trying to develop a ’high level’ placement facility, but this will not be a viable option for some time. One aspect of the problem of juveniles coming into the system with mental health issues is that they "tranfer" out of the mental health system -where the costs are borne by that system-and when they enter the juvenile justice system, they are now the "responsibility" of this system and so are the attendant costs. Mental health doesn’t want to continue paying for treatment for what was once their problem. An alternative means of paying for these difficult cases is via the State requirement that local school districts provide special ed to identified (assessed) special ed students (which these cases definitely are).
3. (DISCUSSION) Overall status of Commission and desired direction for the next 5 yrs. There was no belief that a course of action could or should be laid out for the next 5 yrs, but certainly on a short term basis it was agreed that the general views of the Commission and the Dept are ill informed at best, and both the Commission and Dept have to redouble efforts to dispell the bull……..
Very concrete suggestions were:
to begin producing brief brochures and fact sheets that reveal the successes of the Dept (individual kids that do well), and distributing them, having them available.
To really come up with some revenue producing projects so that the youth can learn how to grow a business.
Chief Williams reported about an organization called Cornell Abraxis, which had not responded to the City’s Placement Alternative, or Placement Readiness project RFP. They (the Dept) have been in discussion with them about using Hidden Valley for hard to place kids (including girls), and the firm is willing to invest capital development funds to start it. The placements there would be for level 12-14. This is still being explored but promises to be a potential solution for the detainment of youth awaiting placement, and the provision of therapeutic services to those needy youth in the Dept. not now being served.
There was a short discussion around the logistics of the juvenile hall replacement project, the relocation of services, the concerns for staff. Review of the cost of the project: original bill $39.9 million (est). Right now, there is $15 from BOC, $2.2 mil from another state funding source, $9 mil in the 2000-01 capital budget, and another $7 mil in the 2001-02 budget. So it is still $10 mil short.
4. Public Comment on any matter within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Juvenile Probation Commission. There was none.
5. (DISCUSSION) Announcements, requests for future agenda items. There was none.
6. (ACTION) Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 4:10pm
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