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A New Model for Youth Probation Camps

PHOTO: Camp Kilpatrick in the Malibu hills is about to undergo a renovation. A new report called "Reforming the Nation's Largest Juvenile Justice System" urges sweeping improvements to the way the state rehabilitates incarcerated youth.
PHOTO: Camp Kilpatrick in the Malibu hills is about to undergo a renovation. A new report called "Reforming the Nation's Largest Juvenile Justice System" urges sweeping improvements to the way the state rehabilitates incarcerated youth.
December 13, 2013

LOS ANGELES – A youth probation camp in the Malibu hills is about to undergo a $48 million renovation that will also include a new probation camp model that's less prison-like and more therapeutic.

A new report from UCLA and the Children's Defense Fund-California (CDF) recommends the renovated Camp Kilpatrick replace large dorms with a new small-group treatment model that houses juvenile offenders in groups of 12, so they get more individual attention.

Michelle Newell, the report’s co-author and senior policy associate at the Children's Defense Fund-California, says the current model is outdated and ill-equipped to address the complex needs of youth in its custody.

"This 80-year-old model to locked facilities is just not designed to meet the complex needs of youth in the juvenile justice system,” she says. “It's led to decades of abuse and neglect that we've seen as of late."

Work at the 50-year-old Malibu probation camp is set to begin in March.

L.A. County's juvenile justice system is the largest in the nation, detaining nearly 2,000 youths on any given day.

Newell says the CDF report also recommends the Camp Kilpatrick replacement project be a springboard for greater reform for all youth detention camps.

"We want every young person who needs to be detained in Los Angeles County to be in a facility that is with the times,” she says, “that's meeting their needs, that's not based on an 80-year-old outdated approach that's even more harmful."

Newell says the state needs a system that's focused on rehabilitating and improving the lives of young people, and not one that drives them deeper into the cradle to prison pipeline.


Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA