Juvenile inmates in California are living in squalid conditions that endanger guards and youths, while managers operate in crisis because of a lack of funding, says the Associated Press. Reports obtained by AP say shower doors at some youth prisons are so rusty that wards can break off metal to use as weapons. Two-way radios and personal alarms worn by employees work only intermittently. There are holes in dorm walls and perimeter fences. “Benign neglect” appears to permeate the Division of Juvenile Justice, a team found after touring four of the state’s eight youth facilities last summer.
Efforts to close the most notorious youth prisons and replace punishment with rehabilitation may have backfired by discouraging proper repairs and discipline at facilities expected to be closed. The reports were withheld for five months while prison officials prepared a response. “This is truly the shame of the nation when we look at juvenile systems,” said Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero. Inspectors found that a fence gate didn’t work and neither did many cell door locks at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility, the most notorious facility.