The COVID pandemic has slowed down plans to close San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall, but alternative actions have decreased the number of occupants, the San Francisco Chronicle reports..
“It is unfortunate that we are behind schedule in closing the Juvenile Hall since that is the right thing to do,” said Margaret Brodkin, a member of the Juvenile Probation Commission.
As of June 30, only 15 juveniles were in the facility with a capacity of 150. San Francisco’s proposed budget includes $17 million for juvenile hall.
Rather than Juvenile Hall, youth have been referred to community programs. This makes San Francisco the first major city to curb incarceration of juveniles, the Chronicle reported.
Approximately 19 months ago the city deemed Juvenile Hall unacceptable detention for children.
”City leaders said diverting the vast majority of juvenile offenders into community programs would ensure they never entered the legal system, never had a criminal record and got needed help. It meant juvenile criminal justice would deliver on its promise to provide services and support – not punish — offenders,” the Chronicle reported.
“The City does not need such a massively large building for a small and decreasing number of people in the facility. But we do need a safe and court-approved facility for those who need to be detained,” said Jeff Cretan, Mayor London Breed’s spokesperson. “Unless we are open to the reality of moving young people out of county when the courts require detention, we can’t close until we have a new facility.”
The task force responsible for presenting a closure plan to the Board of Supervisors did not submit its recommendations — after 18 months of planning. The closing deadline to close Juvenile Hall is December 2021.