COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO INSPECT CONDITIONS AT CYA
The Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court has appointed a committee to investigate conditions for San Joaquin County youth in California Youth Authority facilities, including the Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Ione, and the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton. CYA administrators have promised full access.
Judge Richard Vlavianos appointed three members of the County's Juvenile Justice Commission, which is charged by law to monitor juvenile detention facilities. They are Commission Chair Tom Cantrell (District Attorney's Investigator), Nick Cademartori (Chief Probation Officer, Retired), and Irene Killian De Ojeda (CYA teacher, retired).
"In light of the current debate over juvenile correctional facilities, it's appropriate for us to take a close, hard look at where our court sends young offenders," said Judge Vlavianos. "I am confident that this committee will diligently investigate any problems. Our goal is to make sure that these facilities are safe and secure."
The ad hoc committee members will visit the sites to inspect conditions and to interview wards. They will also consider whether CYA should continue to be an option used by the Court, and whether suitable alternatives exist. They will then report back to the Court and make recommendations, if needed.
"We are all genuinely concerned for the safety and well being of the wards," said Judge Vlavianos. "We want to act in the best interests of these young people, but we also have an obligation to ensure public safety."
In San Joaquin County only the most extreme cases are considered for CYA, which is generally used as the last resort when all interim steps have been exhausted.
The 12-member Juvenile Justice Commission functions as a public conscience in the interest of justice for children and adolescents, and provides leadership for citizen action. Responsibilities include the inspection of jails and lockups where minors are confined for more than 24 hours, and they may investigate group homes. The Commission may hold hearings, and has subpoena power under the Juvenile Court.