[This is the first in a series of upcoming posts on Santa Maria Juvenile Hall] in Santa Maria, California.
Over the past year I have made two visits to Santa Maria Juvenile Hall, also known as Susan J. Gionfriddo Juvenile Hall in Santa Maria, California. Gaining access to Santa Maria Juvenile Hall has been reasonably typical of the sites I have visited. Take this experience and multiply it by 300 successful attempts and many unsuccessful… it becomes exhausting.
October 2011 I visited Steve Delira, deputy director of the juvenile detention center. We spoke for an hour and I voiced my goals to have him partake in a “Justice” themed class I was teaching with Victor Rios and Cissy Ross. He explained the reasons for the closure of the Santa Barbara (South County) juvenile detention center and said he would get back to me … Read More »
Tom Brooks, head of Harris County Probation, essentially the greater Houston area, answered his email and followed up with a phone call with the words, “We want you to come to Harris County and document everything we have; the good, the bad and the ugly. The only way we will improve the lives of these kids is to shine a light here. Let me know when you are coming and I will pick you up and drive you to all our facilities.”
This is a rare event. Frequently the discussion is a long exchange of emails and a presentation of bona fides, references, checks, cross-checks and occasionally court orders. There are many examples I can offer where the institutions and the individuals wanted to protect themselves from scrutiny under the guise of protecting the children in their custody.
So, last month, I … Read More »
I am an honor resident here. I talk to the guard, work in the garden. I do well here. I grew up with some pretty bad people in Watsonville-the city without pity. I’m going to get my GED when I am out.
-A.G. age 17
A good portion of our juvenile justice architecture was built as a fear response to the “super predator” scare of the 90s. This meant building facilities with a primary eye to staff security, confinement and punishment. Far more effective treatment is helping juveniles gain access to positive male role models. This means building a “pony” wall rather than a concrete, brick and glass barricade. Unfortunately, A. was released and then was involved in an altercation at a bowling alley. Firearms were involved. A. is now back in the system.
Click … Read More »