The Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, in Camarillo in Ventura County holds a population of committed youths from all over the state. VYCF is known by those in the field as a problematic facility. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice cites the facility as a “paragon of dysfunction” and has previously condemned the institution for inhumane living conditions and violence (CJCJ). A January 2012 report from the Office of the Special Master, evaluating the facility, found that “After years of reform efforts…there have not been significant declines in violence and fear at the facility.” The report also identifies key issues that haven’t been addressed that include, “gender responsive programming and facility improvements to avoid a ‘prison-like’ atmosphere.”
The report also points out that while VYCF has a relatively low Youth Violence Rate, it has a disproportionately high Use of Force Rate. The facility also has a worrisome rate of temporary detention/restrictive housing (which includes putting youths in isolation cells). In comparison to two other facilities whose rates of temporary detention for the first six months of 2011 were 7 and 8 juveniles respectively, VYCF counted 958 juveniles that had been put in isolation or restrictive housing. Furthermore, many of the youth being put in temporary detention were “systematically not receiving” the Department of Juvenile Justice’s requirement of three hours of “out-of-cell time daily.” Many of the issues can be attributed to a relatively uninformed and unskilled staff incapable of addressing or understanding youth behavior issues, as well as staff shortages, and lack of leadership.