Nevada City, CA July 9, 2020 – A Resolution to close the Nevada County Carl F. Bryan II Youth Center by June 30, 2021, will go before the Board of Supervisors on July 14, 2020. The Youth Center was built in 2003 and sized according to anticipated growth in juvenile detainees.
“This has been a difficult decision to make,” said County Executive Officer Alison Lehman. “I appreciate all Probation has done to curtail costs and expand prevention programs for our youth. We are committed to supporting our Youth Center staff members during this transition and reinvesting dollars strategically into preventative programs for youth.”
Declining Populations in Juvenile Hall
Since its opening, the Youth Center has never been at capacity and over the last year the average daily population has been less than three youth and yet maintains 27 County staff. This facility was designed to hold sixty youth in order to accommodate the projected population growth in the County. However, contrary to the prior population growth projections for Nevada County between 2000 to 2020, demographic data from the United States Census Bureau revealed that the population of Nevada County plateaued in the last decade, going from 98,205 in 2009 to 99,715 in 2019. This, in addition to Nevada County’s investment in collaborative alternative strategies to working with youth and families to resolve conflict and provide rehabilitative opportunities, has resulted in a substantially reduced need for secure detention of juveniles. Due to the declining population in secure detention, the average daily cost per youth has increased by over 200% over the past decade. Over several years, Probation has sought to reduce costs caused by the steady decline in the daily Youth Center census by leasing juvenile hall beds to other counties. However, the revenue from these contracts will be reduced drastically upon the completion of El Dorado County’s new detention facility in the fall of 2021.
The Grand Jury has reported on the low census at Juvenile Hall twice – first in 2013 and again in 2016. Both reports recommend closing the hall and instead contracting with a neighboring county to house our juvenile offenders. Both reports cite financial savings and repurposing the facility to serve the community in a greater way as reasons for the recommendation.
Repurposing as a Youth Center
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In 2018, an interdepartmental County staff workgroup was formed to identify and analyze the opportunities to repurpose the Juvenile Hall. The workgroup identified the needs for facilities for County programs, the limitations of changing the Juvenile Hall’s use per DOJ funding restrictions, the costs of potential new uses and the pros and cons of keeping it as a juvenile facility. The stakeholder group met seven times over fourteen months to discuss options and have time to research and gather additional information between meetings. The workgroup considered using the facility for homeless services, mental health services, as a group home, an adult reentry program, and as an expanded youth facility (including the relocation of Earle Jamieson Continuation School). After analyzing each option, on June 25, 2019, the Board approved the Expanded Youth Facility recommendation.
Subsequently, the unanticipated high costs of renovation and tenant improvements to accommodate Earle Jamieson Continuation School, combined with insufficient commitment from youth prevention programs and the low average daily local youth population for the last year, has led to this recommendation. Accordingly, it has been determined that the Expanded Youth Facility option is not feasible, and that the most appropriate option at this time is to close the Youth Center on or before June 30, 2021.
If the Board of Supervisors adopts the resolution, the Probation Department will begin the process to secure contracts with Placer and El Dorado County for the placement of Nevada County youth upon closure of the Youth Center, which is projected to result in significant cost savings to the County. Nevada County is committed to ensure these contract counties provide similar rehabilitative programming that currently exists in Nevada County.