Youth facility ‘recipe for tragedy’
California's largest youth correctional facility
remains a "recipe for tragedy," despite repeated calls for safety
improvements, according to a special report released today by the
state's inspector general.
The Chino-based Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional
Facility keeps large numbers of wards isolated for all but two hours of
the day, fails to provide mandated counseling and education and allows
dangerous materials, including ropes, into rooms, said Inspector General
"We found these same conditions at the facility two
years ago and reported on them in January 2005," Cate said. "Yet we find
they still have not been corrected."
In an extensive condemnation of the juvenile
corrections system two years ago, auditors concluded that the California
Youth Authority failed to give offenders the education and training that
could save them from a life of crime.
The 2005 report stated that the Stark facility, which
holds 779 male criminal offenders from ages 18-25, locked up some
inmates around the clock, except for five-minute daily showers. It also
reported that some wards blocked their cell windows, preventing anyone
from monitoring the activity inside.
The new review suggested little progress has been
It found more than half of the wards in the facility's
special management program, designed for those with violent or
disruptive behavior, had dangerous materials in their rooms, including
clotheslines and curtains.
"The continued presence of curtains covering windows
and makeshift ropes is of particular concern, since those conditions
echo the circumstances under which a ward hanged himself at the N.A.
Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in August 2005," Cate said.
Although youth correctional facilities have been
mandated to provide all wards with exercise, education, counseling and
treatment, the review found that of the six days selected for
examination, wards in Chino's special management program received less
than 1% of the required education time.
"We've recognized the problems that the audit has
uncovered and we have been working to correct them," said Bill Sessa, a
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman. "Many
of the changes we are making at Stark are part of broader implements for
the entire youth correctional system."
The inspector general's office serves as an
independent state agency over the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation but has no direct authority over it, said Chief
Deputy Inspector General Brett H. Morgan.
"It is disheartening to find the problems we have
identified have yet to be rectified," Morgan said. "The changes need to
come from the Department of Corrections; they have to be the one that
finally issues them."
27 February 2007