A majority of California counties have not met the expectations of a new law mandating that young criminals be kept in their home counties instead of state facilities, says a report from The Prison Law Office, a juvenile justice watchdog agency, quoted by the San Diego News-Tribune. The nonprofit group criticized San Diego county for pouring money into custodial facilities instead of finding alternatives to confinement, a strategy the law office said is a failure in the state.
Mack Jenkins, San Diego County’s chief probation officer, believes the county is meeting the needs of offenders and disagrees with the criticism that his department is spending too much on institutions. “We have to be concerned about both the needs of the kids and protecting the community,” he said. California’s 58 counties were ordered last year to begin accommodating all but the most violent juvenile criminals instead of sending them to state juvenile prisons. The directive came as a result of a court mandate to overhaul juvenile prisons, institutions described as inhumane by a judge in 2004.