County Diverting Selected Young Offenders From Detention To San Luis Obispo Academy

San Bernardino County will spend two-and-a-half million dollars over the next five years to divert roughly 50 juvenile offenders out of local detention facilities to an alternate academy in San Luis Obispo.
San Bernardino Chief Probation Officer Tracy Reece recommended and the board of supervisors approved entering into a nonstandard agreement with the County of San Luis Obispo for what were termed placement services at Coastal Valley Academy in the total amount of $2,555,000 for the period of August 9, 2023 through August 8, 2028.
According to its website, “Coastal Valley Academy is a custody commitment camp program in [San Luis Obispo County] Juvenile Hall for 14–17-year-old male and female youth who are moderate to high risk and in need of residential treatment. Youth are ordered to stay 6-12 months and receive intensive case management, treatment and educational services through collaboration with a local treatment provider, Family Care Network, and the [San Luis Obispo] County Office of Education.” Reece in a report to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors referred to what is available at Coastal Valley Academy as a “self-contained program” which she said “maintains exclusive resources including living units, classrooms, and a recreation yard, distinguishable from the San Luis Obispo detention facilities. The physical features of the unit are more home-like, while still maintaining compliance with Title 15 and Title 24 of California Board of State and Community Corrections. Coastal Valley Academy provides a safe and effective alternative to traditional placement options such as group homes and engages families in the treatment and re-socialization process of these moderate to high-risk justice involved youth. Youth participate in child and family team meetings as well as individual, family, and group treatment. Coastal Valley Academy staff are trained in comprehensive substance abuse curriculums and positive behavioral interventions and supports. Groups are facilitated by both treatment staff and Coastal Valley Academy probation officers. Youth also participate in pro-social activities, including off-site activities, community service projects, and home passes.”
According to Reece, “Placement services under this agreement are provided at a cost of $140 per day, per youth, with approximately 10 youth participating annually, resulting in an annual cost of $511,000. Coastal Valley Academy provides this range of evidence-based services in a setting outside of San Bernardino County. The location of the facility is ideal because it provides opportunities for the youth to participate in activities outside of Coastal Valley Academy grounds while minimizing the risk of flight due to the physical distance between San Bernardino County and San Luis Obispo. A program of this type does not exist within San Bernardino County. The terms in the agreement are set forth by San Luis Obispo County, which differ from the San Bernardino County standard contract terms.”
Reece said participation in the program would be limited to youthful offenders from San Bernardino County “who are moderate to high risk and in need of intensive case management, treatment, and educational services.”
The non-standard terms include, Reece indicated, reciprocal or mutual indemnification. While San Bernardino County standard contracts require contractors to indemnify the county, Reece said, “By agreeing to indemnify San Luis Obipo County, San Bernardino County would be responsible to defend and reimburse San Luis Obispo County for costs, expenses, and damages. Both county counsel and risk management have approved the mutual indemnification language.”
In the event a dispute arises between the two counties, Reece said, “The agreement requires the [court] venue to be in the County of San Luis Obispo. San Bernardino County’s standard contracts require the venue to be in San Bernardino County in accordance with County Policy 11-05.” Nevertheless, under certain conditions, Reece noted “County Policy 11-05 allows for the venue to be in another California County. If a dispute arises and needs to be litigated, the case will be heard in the County of San Luis Obispo. The probation department recommends the approval of this agreement, including non-standard terms, to provide effective placement, rehabilitative, and treatment services at a lower level of supervision than a secure youth treatment facility for the county’s high-risk justice involved youth at Coastal Valley Academy.”
The cost of the program is to be funded with the Youthful Offender Block Grant San Bernardino County has already secured.
The contract with San Luis Obispo County was reviewed by Deputy County Counsel Jolena Grider, Risk Management Department Manager Victor Tordesillas and in the county’s finance division by Administrative Analyst Kathleen Gonzalez and Deputy Executive Director Robert Saldana.
-Mark Gutglueck

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