The Ventura County Juvenile Facilities complex sits on a 45 acre parcel in an unincorporated area of the county near the community of El Rio. The Ventura County Probation Agency's state of the art detention and commitment facility was completed in 2003 at a cost of $65 million. Primary funding for the facility was a $40.5 million grant from the California Board of Corrections. The architectural firm Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz designed the facility and the contractor for the project was S.J. Amoroso. The total capacity of the facility is 420 male and female youth. The detention component houses 240 and the commitment component houses 180. All housing units are based on the "new generation" podular design.
In addition to the housing components, Juvenile Facilities include outdoor recreation areas for both detention and commitment programs, a multipurpose gymnasium/technology training center, a visiting center, medical offices and examination rooms, an intake/community confinement/booking area, classrooms, program and facility administration offices, kitchen and laundry services. Staff have locker rooms with showers, and a dining room. A juvenile courthouse with six courtrooms is located adjacent to the Juvenile Facilities.
Youth under our care are provided constructive individual and group activities within the facilities. Educational programming includes Providence School, an accredited school program administered by the County Superintendent of Schools. The County of Ventura's Behavioral Health Department provides psychiatric and crisis intervention services as well as group, individual, and family therapy within the facility. The California Forensic Medical Group provides medical services under contract with the County.
Cognitive behavior therapy programming is provided by probation staff and community based organizations. These programs include a gang intervention program, a gender specific program for females (Girls Inc.), and a problem solving/social skills program (Thinking for a Change). Additional programming includes: a tolerance program, parenting classes, tutoring, anger management, substance abuse counseling, chess, music and dance programs.
Since 2002, the Probation Agency has participated in the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, a grant funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). The AECF is dedicated to reforming juvenile detention practices. In collaboration with the juvenile court judges, local law enforcement, public defender and district attorney's office, the population was safely reduced utilizing a risk-based criteria for booking and detention alternatives including community confinement, home supervision, and electronic monitoring programs.
Juvenile Facilities detention housing is intended for youth going through the court process. It also serves to provide temporary custody for youth in need of short-term removal from the community and/or awaiting transfer to another jurisdiction or placement facility.
The Detention Unit is comprised of one 60-bed male population housing unit, one 20-bed special population housing unit, and one 15-bed female housing unit. Units are named after local Ventura County canyons: Balcom, Matilija and Sycamore. Each general housing unit contains 15 single sleeping rooms. The units have their own dayroom, classrooms, open staff station, and outdoor exercise areas. The living units are designed with sleeping rooms, or cells, located on an upper and lower level. A gymnasium and recreational yard are located adjacent to the units and are used for supervised recreational activities.
The Special Population Housing Unit consists of a 20-bed living unit designed for youth with significant mental health, behavioral, or medical issues. The living unit has its own dayroom, classroom and staff station. Sleeping rooms are all located on one level. Two outdoor exercise areas are available for supervised use by the minors.
In the Detention Units, educational and therapeutic programming is available, and youth also have the opportunity to participate in community service projects by volunteering their labor and time to non-profit organizations.
Youth housed in the Juvenile Facilities’ Commitment Units are serving court-imposed commitments of up to one year. The Commitment Unit is comprised of two 60-bed housing units named after local canyons: Matilija and Wheeler. Each housing unit is divided into four 15-bed living units, each with its own classroom and two program rooms. Each living unit has its own day room and outdoor exercise area. Sleeping rooms are single occupant rooms.
In the Commitment Units, educational and therapeutic programming is provided, and vocational, emancipation-based programming is available for older youth. One of the Commitment housing units provides dedicated female programming to deal with gender-specific issues.
Long-term Commitment residents have the opportunity to participate in Regional Occupational Program classes through the Ventura County Office of Education, including screen printing, computer repair, and landscaping. Enrichment services include broadcast journalism and community service by volunteering their labor and time to Food Share and the City of Oxnard. In addition, youth are afforded the opportunity to attend Aggression Replacement Training (A.R.T.) and participate in on-line community college courses and on-site Boys & Girls Club activities.
The Juvenile Intake unit screens all minors referred by law enforcement agencies and determines whether cases should be referred to court for formal action, handled informally, or referred to Youth Services.
COMMUNITY CONFINEMENT PROGRAM
Community Confinement is a program for youth who would otherwise be in secure confinement, but are allowed to remain at home under strict conditions and close supervision.
All youth released under a program of Community Confinement are supervised based on their individual circumstances and needs. They are interviewed, along with their parents/guardians, in order to determine their risk to the community and individual needs. Some youth are placed on home confinement with supervision and conditions of compliance. Higher-risk youth are placed on electronic monitoring (EM).
If electronic monitoring is warranted, a radio transmitter is affixed around the youth’s ankle and a monitoring box is attached to the youth's home phone. The youth is given portions of time during which he/she may be gone from home to attend school, work, court appearances, or other approved activities. The radio transmitter signals a monitoring center if the youth leaves home or returns home at unapproved times. The monitor also transmits a signal if the transmitter has been altered or manipulated.
Community Confinement staff make contact with youth in person and by telephone at variable hours throughout the day. Staff conduct random drug testing, contact school officials regarding attendance and performance, and conduct room searches for contraband. If a youth is found to be in violation of his/her release contract, staff return the youth to the Juvenile Facilities and a detention hearing is scheduled within two judicial days. Because these youth are on a conditional release from custody, every effort is made to respond to adverse situations as quickly as possible.
SPECIAL FUNCTIONS UNIT
The Special Functions Unit is responsible for all the bookings, releases, and court and medical transports. In addition, the unit oversees all residential movement and visitations. Special Functions staff provide support in responding to emergencies and provide coverage for the Detention and Commitment Units.