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Construction of new juvenile hall set to start next week

Appeal-Democrat - 2/13/2021

Feb. 13—After eight years, it's finally time for a shovel to hit the ground in the construction of the Tri-County Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility. Construction is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, according to Yuba County Director of Administrative Services Perminder Bains.

The environmental review and outreach was completed in 2014. Finding funding sources and cost-share agreements took time. In 2013, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed an amended bill redirecting a grant to Colusa County to also include Yuba and Sutter for the project, according to Bains.

The state is providing approximately $15.3 million and the counties are contributing around $6.1 million. Yuba and Sutter are contributing 40 percent each and Colusa County is providing 20 percent. Bains said the approximate total cost for construction is $17 million. The project is estimated to be completed in July 2022 and occupied by September 2022.

The new juvenile hall will be a modern 32-bed facility that will be built at 938 14th St., Marysville, on land near the existing juvenile hall. It will be a safer, more secure, treatment-focused and homelike environment for juveniles, staff, visitors, and volunteers.

"Alongside greater family integration opportunities, a wider variety of successful evidence-based programs will now have adequate space for implementation and will better promote rehabilitation, ultimately reducing recidivism and crime in the community," Bains said in an email.

According to Bains, the scope of the project changed due to increased costs. The square footage was reduced and 16 beds — a whole pod was removed from the original design.

"The major roadblock we encountered was a delay in working through the state approval process," Yuba County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Bradford said in an email. "This delay resulted in an increase to construction cost which further caused both a decrease in the capacity of the planned facility and an increase in the local share to make the project pencil out financially."

Bradford said he never doubted that the project would eventually become a reality despite the delays and increased costs.

"The most important part of our community is our youth," Bradford said. "The new facility provides hope for our community as it will be much more welcoming and provide a better environment for rehabilitation for our youth."

Yuba County Probation works directly with every individual detained or committed to juvenile hall and it played a large part in the design of the new facility, according to Yuba County Probation Chief Jim Arnold.

He said the existing juvenile hall was originally a tuberculosis facility that was converted to a juvenile hall in the 1970s. Arnold described the existing facility as old, outdated and in need of great repair.

"It is not an environment that provides staff the ability to adequately manage the movement and behaviors of the youth," Arnold said in an email. "... A new facility will provide an environment that is much more favorable to a prideful, rehabilitative and treatment atmosphere."

The improved atmosphere will provide hope to youth that pass through the facility making them better prepared to break the cycle of criminal behavior, generational cycle of poverty and poor choices, Arnold said. This will provide the community better public safety by lowering crime and having fewer adult offenders.

The probation department provides programming, life recovery opportunities, aftercare services and family resources to those it works with at juvenile hall. In addition, probation works with the Marysville Joint Unified School District and Yuba County Office of Education to provide minors a smooth transition once released from juvenile hall, according to Arnold.

"Our youth are simply the most important part of our community and a new facility places great value and belief in them," Arnold said. "When we invest in our youth, the return is everlasting and real ... Sometimes our troubled youth just need a little hope and hope is a very powerful emotion that can lead to great change."

Yuba County Chief Deputy District Attorney Shiloh Sorbello has visited the existing juvenile hall many times and said it is a sterile, institutional environment, which can be counter-productive to the rehabilitative process.

"We certainly don't want juvenile hall to feel like a training ground for future jail or prison residents, which is hard to avoid when you're surrounded by metal walls, bars, and thick glass," Sorbello said in an email.

He said juvenile cases are heard at least two mornings a week at Yuba County Superior Court and two deputy district attorneys share the assignment while managing other caseloads.

Yuba County District Attorney Clint Curry said the new juvenile hall will be significant to public safety in the region because of decisions made at the state level when it comes to criminal justice legislation.

Through realignment the state has transferred adult felons out of state prisons and into local county jails. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 823, which closed the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) that operated state facilities and housed the most dangerous juvenile offenders. DJJ offenders had to have committed a qualifying crime such as murder, arson, rape with force or torture, according to Curry. As of July 1, the DJJ offenders will have to be housed in local juvenile halls.

"California under Gov. Newsom's leadership continues to abandon its responsibility for public safety," Curry said in an email.


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