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Juvenile Probation Department
Juvenile Probation Department
MINUTES OF JULY 25, 2001 MONTHLY MEETING
Held at Mission Police Station Valencia St. at 17th St. San Francisco, CA 94110
1. (ACTION) Roll Call
The meeting was called to order at 5:37pm. by Vice President Dupre. Comm. Hale was excused. All other commissioners were present at the gavel.
Comm Dupre introduced Comm. Shawn Richard, the most recently appointed Commissioner.
2. (ACTION) Review and approval of May 23, 2001 meeting minutes
Comm. Arámburo corrected item #8 of the minutes, regarding her comments. ..to add,
"..address the disproportionate minority confinement issue…and any possible bias or racism…." And to delete "color". With this correction, the minutes were approved.
3. (DISCUSSION) Chief Probation Officer’s Report
a. Status Report on Juvenile Hall Replacement Project.
Chris Bigelow reported that Dept of building inspection is reviewing the plans. Coordination between local and state agencies will be attended to. The beginning of displacement will be around Dec. and construction will not start until March. Completion is still set for Dec. 2004. Communication with the neighborhood continues to attend to issues surrounding construction (traffic, noise, hazardous waste, etc.). The draft environmental assessment is completed. Comm. Arámburo raised the concern about noise, and whether there was any way of negating that impact? "White noise?" Bigelow said they would look into that. Another question was having space for ongoing services (eg. library) while displacement is happening. Comm. Aramburo asked about travel assistance to others who need to come to the site during construction (parents, others), and C. Bigelow said that shuttle arrangements were being looked at.
A member of the audience asked what would be done with the youth duringthe construction, since there will be reduced space. The Chief mentioned several things that were going to happen which would help look at and possibly manage the population to meet the restrictions of the construction period. Among them: moving G1 to a B cottage for the duration. Working with Youth Law Center and the Casey Foundation on population management, working with mental health to get youth out into appropriate sites/services off site. He mentioned that there were about 30-40 youth in the hall awaiting placement. Computer access will be in the individual units (the computer center will be demolished).
Public Comment: Teresa Gallegos, asked about adequate healthy activities during this replacement time.
Another encouraged the increase of artistic programs in the hall.
Comm. Arámburo stated that we are doing some really exciting things in the Dept for the youth, and welcome volunteers from the community.
She asked C. Bigelow whether there was extra room available in the modular units if intake was done offsite.
The Chief introduced Liz Jackson Simpson as the new Director of Community Programs. She thanked everybody and reviewed that there has been much progress in the Dept since 1990. She said that she’d be looking at how to best leverage what resources we have to expand services to youth in the city, and also try to seek ways of maximizing best practices throughout the system.
b. FY 2000-2001 and FY 2001-2002 Operating Budget Update
Ed Lopatin reported that the Bd of Supervisors had just finally approved the City’s budget last Monday. The Dept’s budget is pretty much what it was when the Mayor submitted it to the Bd. There were increased costs which the Dept will have to assume, such as COLA, extra energy expense, and the requested budget was reduced by some $44K, but otherwise, the Dept is in pretty good shape. If the Dept wants to ask for any more in the future, it will have to bring new sources of revenues at the same time.
One of the The Dept will be setting up a meeting with the Finance Committee to go over the budget in more detail, and will be having quarterly budget reviews which the Commission is welcomed to attend. They will also ask for a quarterly review with the Controller’s office. Comm. Arámburo commended the Chief and the Dept for their presentations to the Finance Committee of the Board, which were very well prepared and defended the amounts asked by the Dept. The Chief thanked the Commission as well as community partners who did their part in talking to the Finance Committee.
c. Highlights from last Commission meeting to present.
The Chief reported that LCR has just held its first student council election. They will be introduced at the next Commission meeting. There was an announcement about Family Day at LCR, this Saturday, from 1pm to 4pm. They have been having many recent outings, organized by Johnny Miller and the youth are very positive.
He described the first issue of the Dept. newsletter, being done internally now, after having been started with the NCCD strategic planning contract.
He mentioned the recognition event honoring youth doing well on probation (6/29), and also that in the next month to 45 days the language access task force will finish its work and issue a report and recommendations.
d. Trends/Emerging Issues/Upcoming Events
The Chief mentioned 2 pieces of legislation which will be voted on in Sept. by the Bd of Supervisors, one dealing with the CARC, and the other to establish a monitoring committee for juvenile justice matters.
Comm. Grossman asked about the Youth Law Center’s report. The Chief said they’d have the draft by next week.
Comm. Arámburo asked the Chief at what point a youth is defined as a ranch failure. Johnny Miller said that depending on the behavior of the youth at the ranch. If he makes no progress, he’s considered a failure. If he is sent back up to the hall. Finally the answer was, if a youth is sent back up, and is adjudicated, he is then considered a failure of the ranch.
Comm. Chuck asked about the impact of the Bd of Corrections on our replacement project. The answer is that the Dept will continue to be accountable to the Bd of Corrections for all legal requirements within their scope of responsibilities. The Chief read the letter from the field inspector from Bd of Corrections, regarding his inspection of juvenile hall. It was a very positive letter. (copy available through the Chief’s office).
Jim Queen, a founder of RAP, spoke in regards to the legislation mentioned by Chief Williams. His concern is that neither of those suggestions were the product of an inclusive process where the communities with an interest and concern for this issue are partners in drafting them. He passed out a letter which called for a community driven process and asked the Commission support it.
Gary Bieringer said he was not for expansion for expansion’s sake. There needs to be more players at the table when the planning for this started.
Comm. Dupré announced that Comm. Hale has appointed Comm Richard to the Program Committee. He also stated that he wanted to create an Ad Hoc committee to look into the proposed legislation mentioned earlier. At this point, Deputy City Attorney Rosa Sanchez commented that such an action would have to be put on the next Commission mtg agenda, as it had not been agendized for this meeting.
4. (ACTION) Consideration of recommendation by Program Committee for continuation of contract from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002 with the American Justice Institute for PRIDE system, in the amount of $375,000.
Comm. Arámburo reported that this was discussed in Program Committee on Tuesday. It is a database system which will enable the Dept to assess how well services are being accessed and how effective those services are for the youth in the juvenile justice system. This is a very large scope of work and is expected to be a very expensive task. With this new contract, nearly $1 million will have been spent on developing this program. There was no action taken on this item as it did not pass out of Committee. There were a number of questions needing answers and a future meeting of the Committee will be set up to review the responses to those questions, including the status of the software created to date, the program models in Philadelphia where this program came from. The Committee wanted to be confortable that this is moving forward in a reasonable pace and will be worth the investment. The Committee plans to convene this meeting at the contractor’s office on Market st. Notice will be given, and this item may again be posted, for the August Commission meeting.
5. (ACTION) Consideration and possible action to renew contracts with the California Dept of the Youth Authority for diagnostic treatment of SF. juvenile wards, not to exceed $150,000.
The Chief referred to Bob Wertz, Dir of Probation Services. He said that this is a similar contract to the one covering last year. Wertz said that CYA provides diagnostic services to those youth the court decides needs more evaluation before a disposition is made. This is a continuing contract with CYA. Last year, there were 10 youth referred for such evaluations, at a cost of $100,088. Comm. Arámburo explained that this is a very valuable service. If a youth is facing a commitment to CYA, an evaluation can be requested to see if the youth is appropriate for such an order. In some cases, the CYA has found that a youth is not appropriate for commitment. Wertz says that the youth have averaged a stay of 75 days (for a 90 day diagnostic stay). Services are supplied at their intake center just outside Sacramento.
A public defender (name given off mike) said she had heard that despite the supposed 90 day diagnostic term, she has heard that youth get maybe 45 mins to 1 hr of diagnosis and the rest of the time is just spent confined, with no services/treatment. If this is the case, she’d be concerned for the expense, and whether the funds could be used elsewhere for more cost effective diagnostic services. Comm. Arámburo asked what happens to the remainder of the contract if it is not utilized. Wertz says that it’s used elsewhere. Comm. Grossman asked if there are alternative evaluators used by the courts, and how many youth were referred to them. Wertz did not have figures for that. Comm. Arámburo asked how many of those ordered for evaluation last year were ultimately committed to CYA.. Wertz didn’thave that stat. Ques: who is ultimately responsible for determining the length of stay under this order. Answer: CYA. The average that the Dept has experienced is 75 days. Comm. Ricci also expressed concern for the length of time and the cost involved in this process. Comm. Dupré echoed the question of options. Wertz said that there were psychological evaluations available through various community venues, but CYA doesn’t do those. He did not mention any alternatives that would perform psychiatric evals. Comm. Arámburo wanted the Dept to be sure to utilize this avenue as little as possible, in view of the cost and questioned level of service provided. It was emphasized that very few times would a psych eval at CYA be recommended by the PO, rather than the court.Comm. Arámburo stated that this is a tool which can in some cases help the youth avoid a commitment to CYA.
Question: is there a problem in putting over this action until information on the exact process and level of service is, and how many youth having been evaluated were committed to CYA? The Chief said that without a contract in place the Dept could not pay for a referral/eval to CYA. He did not say whether CYA would deny service due to this. Comm. Arámburo moved to approve the resolution, with a request for the Dept to return with detailed information on what the services were and process followed by CYA in their fulfilling of the contract. Comm. Dupré seconded. By voice vote, motion passed 6-0.
6. (DISCUSSION) Public Comment on any matter within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Juvenile Probation Commission.
A woman ( a public defender) asked about the Chief’s report that about 30-40 of the girls in the hall awaiting placement. She asked if there was additional budget help put into this year’s budget, to concentrate service to getting girls out of the hall and into placement. She was concerned that POs are over burdened with current other responsibilities and don’t have the resources to attend to this issue, which should be a priority.
Joanna Hernandez, founder of Young Queens on the Rise, a young girls support group of 28, talked about the issue of girls in the hall and asked for information regarding services available to girls there. She talked a little about her own volunteer group, and left a photo album for the Commissioners to look over. Comm. Arámburo suggested having a meeting in Sept regarding girls services.
Gary Bierenger congratulated and welcomed the new commissioner.
Ntanya Lee of Coleman Advocates; was excited about the Youth Law Center in regards to their work on the placement issues, detention population issues. She asked for more information about the involvement of the Dept with the Casey initiative. She said that inadequate resources and recourses are given to young people, but more are being given to incarceration. She recommended the Commisison take the lead to find more finances to widen the number of services and programs that will actually lead to a reduction in young people being incarcerated. She commented that even though you have excellent programs in the community, they may not have a direct relationship to reducing the number of young people getting into trouble.
Comm. Grossman asked for clarification. Is she asking for more prevention programs? Ms Lee said that for instance if you expand CARC but have inadequate community programs to refer them to, then a larger CARC is useless.
7. (DISCUSSION) Announcements, requests for future agenda items.
Comm. Arámburo requested that the Department schedule the report on disproportionate minority confinement from James Bell and the Youth Law Center for the August meeting. She also asked the Chief if a report to the Commission would be provided by Bart Lubow from Annie E. Casey
Foundation regarding their proposed reforms? The Chief said they hope to have a team from the Foundation on site in August. He’s hopeful they can have a joint presentation from both organizations at the August meeting.
Comm. Arámburo asked Johnny Miller if August would be a good time to have a report on LCRS. Miller suggested September. Comm. Arámburo reported that she received a troubling letter from a former LCRS student who is now housed at 850 Bryant as a LCRS "failure." In the letter, the student indicated that he felt he was doing better at 850 Bryant than at LCRS.
This troubled Commissioner Aramburo because how could an adult facility be better than LCRS? She assumed that he might be at the new jail and perhaps they had better educational and programmatic services in place.
Commissioners Aramburo, Dupre, and Grossman, as the Program Committee, believe in the potential at LCRS and have been active in supporting enhanced vocational and program services including the newly established library and student council.
Commissioner Aramburo decided to visit the young man, but she found out that he was not at the new jail in an educational program, but was housed on the 6th floor of 850 Bryant, a central intake floor that included psychiatric inmates. The young man was brought to the interview handcuffed.
Commissioner Aramburo asked how he could possibly say that he was better there than at LCRS where he was free to reside outside a cell and without handcuffs . He answered that he was happier because he now had a release date.
Commissioner Aramburo reminded the Commission and the Department of discussions carried on since September of last year with the LCRS Steering Committee about reforming the disciplinary system at LCRS. How the Department needed to review the "deadtime" issue and what that does psychologically to a young person. This young man, as bad as the 6th floor of the old jail was, thought it was better just because he knew when he was going to get out.
Commissioner asked the young man when he was committed to LCRS. He knew the exact date of his commitment to LCRS 11months earlier. She asked him what the underlying offense which lead to his commitment at LCRS. The student reported that he was arrested for driving without a license (a minor offense in adult court that usually carries a fine) and a warrant for running away from placement.
Commissioner Aramburo asked for permission to review his file because she was concerned that the placement order may have meant that there were mental health issues that needed to be addressed. She asked the student if he had received any therapeutic counseling at LCRS, and he said, yes, once (in the 11 months that he was confined at LCRS).
Commissioner Aramburo reviewed the student’s probation file. There were 3 psychiatric evaluations in the student’s file. The most recent evaluation was a court ordered evaluation in August of 2000. As result of the evaluation, the Court ordered that the student receive a minimum of two psycho-therapeutic counseling sessions twice per week while he was at LCRS.
Commissioner Aramburo asked the Department who reviews a copy of the student’s probation file at LCRS? Who reviews any court order regarding services? Who is responsible for making certain that court ordered services are provided to the student?
In reviewing the student’s probation file, it was very very clear this young man was suffering a serious depression and needed psycho therapeutic counseling a minimum of twice a week to address organic and behavioural issues. Yet, there was no evidence in the file that the student received such services. This was disturbing in light of his designation as a "ranch failure" and the host of recent young men who failed LCRS in the past three months.
Commissioner Aramburo, who worked as an attorney representing juveniles for the past 20 years, volunteered to review the files of all the LCRS failures for the past six months to determine what if anything the Department can do to improve services and access resources for these students. If the
Department of Mental Health or the School District cannot provide psychological services, the Department needs to explore how we can budget a full-time therapist at LCRS. It is stunning to this Commissioner that we (the Department) can hold young people accountable for failing to follow court orders when we do not follow them ourselves. Who failed who?
Commissioner Aramburo requested that at the September meeting, the Department report on the following: Which students are failing LCRS and why?
Are these students previous placement failures? If there are mental health issues, then what
needs to be changed in the programming at LCRS and what services need to be provided. Commissioner Aramburo requested that a representative from the Juvenile Probation Department, LCRS, the School District, and Mental Health be present at the September meeting. She requested that the Department report on alternatives to the current disciplinary system, i.e. how to improve the disciplinary system so that it rewards good behavior. Can we re-evaluate the use of deadtime? Can we set realistic release dates for youth? Are there youth who would be better served by a 6 month program vs a 1 year program.
Commissioner Aramburo asked the Department to explore where we can get money for a fulltime psychotherapist if mental health won’t provide weekly services. How do we make sure that this doesn’t happen again, that a young man who is court ordered to receive therapeutic counseling actually receives it?
Commissioner Aramburo also asked for a report on staffing at LCRS. What is the full capacity of counselors and supervisors that we are budgeted for, and what training do we have for supervisors and counselors? She asked for a report on the vocational programs in place and how they related to meaningful Aftercare. She reported that in the last visit at LCRS two weeks ago, the seniors did not know who their assigned Aftercare PO was. Commissioner Aramburo believes that this relationship should be developed late in the junior phase and progress to the senior phase and release of the student.
From the School District, Commissioner Aramburo requested an overview of staffing and curriculum. Who will be the assigned Principal and how many teachers and paraprofessionals will be assigned? She asked the Department to establish reasonable timelines for having these programmatic and educational improvements in place.
Commissioner Aramburo asked the Department to report when the moratorium at LCRS will be lifted. She wants to know how many former ranch students are housed at 850 Bryant or any other adult facility. Commissioner Aramburo asked if CYA recommendations from the Department have increased as a result of the moratorium at LCRS. Commissioner Aramburo asked for a comparison between the number of CYA recommendations and actual CYA commitments for the past six months. Is this a direct result of inadequate placement or mental health services for youths? Commissioner Dupré asked the Commission Secretary to compile a list of Commissioner Aramburo’s requests for the Department to address at the August and September Commission meeting.
Comm Richard asked Mattie Scott to speak. She is a founder of Cease 4 Peace, a violence prevention parents action group, meeting at Joseph Lee gym, to try to deal with issues in the community. She mentioned that they would like to come talk to youth in the hall. They already speak to inmates in the adult system and have been getting a very good response from them. She also invited the Commisison to a family solidarity day event they are holding at Golden Gate Park on Sept. 15.
Comm. Dupré thanked the community and staff for their attendance at the meeting and welcomed the community to continue attending and working with the Commission on these very important issues.
8. (ACTION) Adjournment
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:55pm
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