The final phase of San Diego County’s $205 million construction for a juvenile detention center has been approved. San Diego supervisors voted for $75 million to go to the transition center without any dissent. The new facility will be a replacement for the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, which was erected in 1954. The supervisors supported the construction of the new facility because it will be better equipped to house important therapeutic services that are meant to help youngsters who got caught up in the criminal justice system. By minimizing punitive responses to these younger individuals and favoring more intrinsic healing methods, it is believed that these young people’s prospects will be improved.
In November, a portion of the facility will open with 96 beds available to minors who were charged with serious offenses. When the second and third phase of construction is completed, 72 to 96 beds will be open for minors. There will be a focus on understanding the children’s past trauma and the way those experiences may have been a reason for the child’s criminal behavior.
The Impact of Incarceration on Juveniles
Most of the juveniles who make mistakes and are arrested will not be convicted. For others who have the misfortune of being incarcerated for crimes committed, there is going to be an increased risk for these young people to be more vulnerable to many negative life and health outcomes. The system can affect minors in many ways including the development of mental health conditions, the inability to finish school as well as struggles to find jobs and earn a living. Ultimately, these children often re-engage in criminal acts and are sent back to jail. According to studies that examine trends with youths that are tangled up in the juvenile justice system, the longer a young person is behind bars the more likely that when they become adults they will have problems with their physical and mental health.
A large portion of youth that get into trouble with the law are already suffering from physical and mental health issues. Of all the children going into the juvenile system, 46% are in need of emergency medical care while 70% of the population that is incarcerated are afflicted with one or more mental health conditions. A shared factor amongst these young people is that almost all of them were victims of trauma. When a child who has already been devastated with horrendous life experiences is put into the juvenile justice system, their distress amplifies. It becomes a challenging task to help them overcome their anguish so that they can heal and move forward. Continue reading