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BSCC Approves Overhaul of Regulations Governing Juveniles in Custody


2-8-2018

SACRAMENTO – (Feb. 8, 2018) – Young people in county detention facilities will receive enhanced protections covering issues as varied as use of force and the right to wear their own undergarments based on recommendations approved by the Board of State and Community Corrections today.

The BSCC approved the biennial update of the regulations guiding the incarceration of juveniles after agency staff and workgroups spent 1½ years gathering input from experts and, for the first time, system-involved young people in custody. The updates to Titles 15 and 24 of the California Code of Regulations reflects the latest scientific research into adolescent brain development and the impacts of childhood trauma on behavior and reactions, among other issues. 

Highlights of the proposed revisions designed to improve safety for youth and facility staff include: changes to regulations requiring more detailed reporting of use of force incidents; assuring that chemical agents will be employed only after sufficient attempts at de-escalation of potentially violent situations; implementation of trauma-informed care considerations to ensure the safety of all youth and staff; ensuring transition and aftercare plans to help successful reintegration into community; aligning room confinement standards with current law, which includes a four-hour time limit and eliminating confinement as punishment; and ensuring that youth will be allowed to have their own underwear throughout their stay.

“These revisions reflect the many positive trends that we see in juvenile justice reform,” said Board Chair Linda Penner. “Facility administrators understand that young people often arrive with behavioral issues that create challenges and provide opportunity for reform. We should be proud that these regulations address these and other important issues.”

One issue on which the Board’s Executive Steering Committee did not reach agreement is the number of juveniles that one corrections officer can oversee safely. Advocates argued that officers should supervise no more than eight young people in juvenile halls during daytime hours instead of the current one-to-10 ratio. The Executive Steering Committee that directed the regulations revisions was split on whether a staffing ratio change is necessary, with half of the members expressing concerns that fiscal considerations would strap agencies and lead to fewer rehabilitative programs, and could lead to the closing of some small-county institutions.

The Board ultimately opted to keep the current 1:10 ratio after reading comments submitted in writing to the Board and hearing from a variety of advocates and local chiefs of probation.

The ESC was co-chaired by David Steinhart, a Board member appointed by the Senate who is an advocate for juvenile justice, and Michelle Brown, a Board member appointed by the Governor who is Chief of Probation of San Bernardino County. 

To inform the update, BSCC staff and the ESC sought statewide public comment from stakeholders, facility administrators, juvenile justice advocates, and mental health and adolescent healthcare experts.

The revisions presented to the Board are available here and here. In the coming weeks BSCC staff will make minor edits, if necessary, and begin the Administrative Procedures Act process with the Office of Administrative Law, including publication in the California Notice Register. The public will have 45 days for additional public comment before the regulations become final.

For more information contact Allison Ganter at Allison.Ganter@bscc.ca.gov or call 916-323-8617.