For 50 years, tough inner-city kids headed in the wrong direction were shipped to the Sacramento County Boys Ranch, a wholesome farm environment where they took classes, rode horses, listened to the quails call and learned to be men. This weekend, the ranch closes, another victim of the county’s budget cuts, reports the Sacramento Bee. The county had little choice but to close the ranch, given the size of its budget deficit and the limited amount of discretionary revenue available, said interim county executive Steve Szalay. He is optimistic the county eventually may be able to restore some of the rehabilitation services the ranch offered.
The immediate fallout, said law enforcement officials and juvenile advocates, is the county loses a key resource for breaking a pattern of behavior that leads so many troubled youths to prison or death. With the ranch closed, there won’t be as much space to book juveniles on fresh arrests. The situation is similar to the one at Sacramento County’s adult jail, which is so overcrowded that most people arrested for misdemeanors are simply processed and released.