U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Youth Corrections in California

NCJ Number
David Steinhart; Jeffrey A. Butts
Date Published
July 2002
31 pages
This document discusses the factors that help create the policy climate regarding California’s use of secure juvenile confinement.
The three principal types of juvenile facilities are county detention centers, county probation camps, and State-operated institutions. There were 58 detention facilities located in 51 counties in the beginning of 2001. They had a combined capacity of nearly 7,000 beds. Factors affecting the use of detention are police and practice of county governments, post-disposition cases, alternatives to secure detention, facility crowding and related enforcement, recent changes in State law and policy, and new construction plans. County probation camps or ranches in California have 5,100 camp beds. Not every county has a probation camp or ranch for juvenile offenders. About 20,000 juveniles per year are admitted to camps and ranches, where the average length of stay is 2 to 3 months. One alternative that may be underdeveloped is referral to “day-reporting” or day-treatment programs. If the Crime Prevention Act of 2000 continues as an ongoing funding source, more programs may be developed in the future to reduce demand for secure confinement space at the local level. California runs the world’s largest network of youth incarceration facilities, holding more than 7,000 youth per day. The California Youth Authority (CYA) institutions range from prison-like facilities to campus-like environments. The CYA is responsible for young offenders committed to its custody by either juvenile or criminal courts. Policies regarding offender length of stay are a critical determinant of the demand for confinement space. The legislature enacted a program of financial disincentives to discourage the commitment of youth charged with relatively non-serious offenses. Other factors involved in the changing use of confinement space were the reporting of incidents of abuse at several CYA institutions, and the availability of private facilities. However, the CYA continues to predict that its population will grow over the next decade. 4 figures, 5 tables, 21 references, 2 appendixes