La Verne, Santa Clarita residents criticize plan to move youth offenders

La Verne and the Santa Clarita Valley residents on Wednesday night, Jan. 5, blasted a possible plan to house Los Angeles County’s most serious juvenile offenders in their communities.

In La Verne, Camps Joseph pPaige and Clinton B. Afflerbaugh are on a short list of county sites to house these youths. Camp Scott in Santa Clarita is also on that list, while Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu is an option as an interim site, officials said Wednesday.

Camp Glenn Rockey in San Dimas was previously considered as an alternative site.

Under Senate Bill 823, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September 2020, juveniles as young as 12 — some of whom remain in custody until age 25 — convicted of murder, arson and other crimes would be relocated from state prisons to county facilities to rehabilitate youths closer to their homes. The bill’s goal is to put youths in the “least restrictive appropriate environment.”

In response, the LA County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council established a work group, the Juvenile Justice Realignment Block Grant Subcommittee, to implement the bill.

If chosen, each La Verne camp could house up to 50 high-level offenders previously supervised by the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice. Camps Afflerbaugh and Paige currently house mostly low-level juvenile offenders and it is unknown where the new population would be housed if the county chooses the La Verne sites.

Adam Bettino, an LA County Probation Chief Deputy and subcommittee member, said at the town hall meeting Wednesday that facilities would have adequate security. This could include anti-climbing fencing, added barriers, security cameras and additional security measures around the perimeter.

In La Verne, there would be fencing between the two camps and a nearby fire department staging area to improve security, according to the LA County Probation Oversight Commission.

The camps on North Stephens Ranch Road are a mile from homes in the foothills that surround Marshall Canyon and a 10-minute drive from the 210 Freeway. Camp Scott in Santa Clarita is in the middle of a residential area.

The county’s probation department is considering a shuttle service for visitors and to alleviate the need for some parking. Currently, there are 14 young offenders convicted of serious crimes awaiting placement at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar.

For weeks, community members and city officials have objected to moving more violent offenders to the La Verne facilities. The cities of San Dimas, Glendora, Claremont and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments all sent letters to the county opposing the juvenile youth relocation.

Many who spoke at the meeting repeated their stance that another site in the county should take the youths. Speakers included the entire La Verne City Council, who each spoke individually Wednesday.

“We’re a very generous community and have been for many, many years and I think that the commission needs to readjust their thoughts and put these youth in facilities” closer to where many of their families live, Mayor Tim Hepburn said.

Masis Hagobian, intergovernmental affairs analyst for  Santa Clarita expressed concerns about the relocation of violent youth to the city and called Camp Kilpatrick the best option.

Any site would also see an increased 1-to-4 staffing ratio and services for young people to work towards a goal, including educational and vocational pathways, Bettino said.

Youths previously under the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice spoke in favor of the county’s plan.

Ezekiel Nishiyama, a member of the Anti Recidivism Coalition, which works to end mass incarceration in the state, said many residents’ comments were misguided.

“I recently came home two years ago after serving four years in some of these facilities,” Nishiyama said. “These young people are more than serious juveniles and I’m here today to just speak to the fact that they are not what they’re made out to be.”

County Probation Oversight Commission member Samuel Lewis said that he, having been to prison himself as a youth, was saddened that so many people say they support rehabilitation, but say “not in my backyard.”

“If it was your son or your daughter that found themselves in these circumstances would you give up on them and say, ‘I don’t want them near me?’ Lewis asked.

The next virtual town hall on juvenile prison realignment in LA County is set for 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 13. The public is asked to register in advance at

The LA County Board of Supervisors is expected to announce a final location to house the younger offenders based on the juvenile justice subcommittee’s recommendations in mid-January or February.

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