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News from the Director

UPDATE ON CYA COMMITMENTS (esp. San Mateo and Contra Costa Cases):
March 19, 2004

There are new developments in San Mateo and Contra Costa Counties in response to the Farrell v. Harper reports of abuse and dangerous conditions at California Youth Authority (CYA).

San Mateo. Last month we reported that San Mateo County Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Marta Diaz had stopped sending juveniles to CYA institutions, citing the Farrell v. Harper reports. On February 17, 2004, Judge Diaz ordered San Mateo County probation officers to investigate all 54 current San Mateo County CYA commitments and to submit a written report to her about each ward. According to a San Francisco Chronicle article dated March 18, 2004, those investigations and reports are now complete. Although it appears that the court recalled one minor from CYA (not mentioned in the Chronicle article), the remaining San Mateo minors remain in CYA and San Mateo no longer has a moratorium on CYA commitments. Commitment decisions will now be made on an individualized basis.

There may remain grounds in an appropriate case for filing a modification petition (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 779) for the minors who are still in CYA. FDAP has sample materials available for this purpose. If you have a San Mateo County J-Crim case with a CYA disposition, and would like more information and to discuss options, contact your FDAP buddy.

Contra Costa. In the wake of the Farrell v. Harper reports and in response to a letter from the Contra Costa County Public Defender's Office requesting a moratorium on CYA commitments, Contra Costa County Juvenile Court Judge Lois Haight has declined to impose a such a moratorium, but has asked probation officers last week to visit all Contra Costa wards. (Sanchez, Judge: County Will Still Use CYA, Contra Costa County Times (Mar. 15, 2004).) Quoting Contra Costa County Chief Probation Officer Steven Bautista, the Contra Costa County Times reports, "Probation officers will observe whether wards are being ‘provided a clean environment' and whether CYA operations are ‘positive and progressive.'" It is unclear how substantial the inquiry will be (Bautista says,"we will speak to each and every one of our kids") or what, if anything, Judge Haight will do with any information she receives from probation.

If you have a Contra Costa County J-Crim case with a CYA disposition, and would like more information and to discuss options, contact your FDAP buddy.

 

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