The Preston Youth Correctional Facility (at left is the "Preston Castle," the iconic, old facility that is no longer in use) in Ione (Amador County, 36 miles east of Stockton) will close "by June 2011," according to public statement issued yesterday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CCDR); speaking for the department, Matthew Cate said the move is in response to a declining ward population at youth correctional facilities statewide, and that the 224 youths currently housed at Preston would be moved to one of the five remaining Division of Juvenile Justice facilities in the state by June 2011.
In the flurry around job loss, community impact, and press leaks, it is the stats that are drawing the most attention: for those 224 youths, there are 445 employees.
From the Ledger-Dispatch's comment section (by "CCDR/DJJ Reformer"):
Finally, staffing to inmate ratio is coming out. Things at CDCR/DJJ have been out of whack for years. Back in the early to mid 90s, the population in DJJ was around 12000. Cost to house a juvenile was around $50k at that time. Through dollars going to counties to provide programing for juveniles at the local level, the current population of DJJ is around 1200. However, the budget and staffing levels has stayed the same. This means sending a juvenile to DJJ costs around $180K per year. See a problem here??? The state and its employees are getting what has been a long time coming. It is unfortunate, but needed. Hopefully the folks in Sacramento don't fall asleep at the switch...AGAIN!!! Maybe CDCR can/will use the grounds at Preston as a low level housing facility and/or a re-entry facility.
The state's three-year-old plan to keep only high-risk (to the community) youths incarcerated at the state level, thus shifting the role of rehabilitation to the county level, plus the use of an "integrated behavioral model" by the California Dept of Correcions and Rehabilitation, is changing the nature of juvenile justice, as reported by KALW, education-oriented public radio in the Bay Area.
The facililty at Ione is the oldest juvenile correctional facility in the state of California, and we have a personal history with it: our grandfather, John D. Robertson, was the administrator of the Preston School of Industry during World War II; our mother visited there with us many times, and a few of "the boys" came to visit us in later years. One in particular, Walter, was a lifelong friend of our family. He married, but he never had any children. When asked why, he sadly replied, "I wasn't a good kid and I was afraid I'd pass that along somehow." The Preston Castle, above, is California State Historical Landmark, #867, and it is abandoned.