LAO 2006-07 Budget Analysis: Judiciary & Criminal Justice

Analysis of the 2006-07 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2006

Juvenile Justice

Who Is in the Division of Juvenile Justice?

There are several ways that an individual can be committed to the Division of Juvenile Justiceís (DJJís) institution and camp populations, including:

Characteristics of Wards. Wards in DJJ institutions are generally between the ages of 12 and 24, with an average age of 19. Males comprise over 95†percent of the ward population. Latinos make up the largest ethnic group in DJJ institutions, accounting for 50†percent of the total population. African-Americans make up 30†percent of the population, whites are 14†percent, and Asians and others are about 6†percent.

Population Issues

Juvenile Offender Population Continues to Decline; Projections Will Be Updated in May

The caseload projection for the Division of Juvenile Justice appears reasonable based on available data. However, we withhold recommendation on the 2006-07 budget request for caseload funding pending receipt of the May Revision as this will provide additional data. We will continue to monitor the caseload and recommend further changes, if necessary, following review of the May Revision.

Juvenile Institution Population Decrease. As of June 30, 2005, 3,205 wards resided in DJJ facilities. The department forecasts the ward population will decrease to 2,680 wards by June 30, 2007, a projected two-year decrease of 525 wards, or about 16†percent, compared to the beginning of the current fiscal year. The projected decrease is the result of a continuing trend of declining admissions to youth correctional facilities. The declining admissions are primarily the result of fewer juvenile court commitments to state facilities. Figure†1 shows the year-end ward and parole populations for the period 1996 through 2007.

Juvenile Parole Population Decrease. As of June 30, 2005, CDCR supervised 3,650 youthful offenders on parole. The department forecasts the parole population will decrease to 3,175 by June 30, 2007, a projected two-year decrease of 475 parolees, or 13†percent. The projected decrease is the result of a continuing trend of declining admissions to youth correctional facilities. As Figure 1 shows, beginning in 2004, the parole population is slightly greater than the institution population and is projected to remain greater through 2007. This is primarily a result of (1) a declining rate of new admissions into DJJ youth correctional facilities and (2) an increasing average length of time that a ward is on parole.

Fiscal and Housing Implications of Population Changes. While the ward and parolee populations have declined, these populations have not declined as rapidly as assumed in the 2005-06 Budget Act. As a result, the budget requests an increase of $5.7†million in the current year and $3.3†million in the budget year. Most of this amount is requested to staff and operate additional living units to accommodate the higher-than- anticipated ward population.

Analystís Recommendation. We withhold recommendation on the caseload funding request pending receipt of the May Revision. We will continue to monitor the DJJ population and make recommendations as appropriate at the time of the May Revision.

Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan Not Final

In December 2005, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released the Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan, which describes the departmentís plans to implement a new model of care and treatment for juvenile offenders under state jurisdiction. In this piece, we provide information on the features of the plan and its related budget request. We withhold recommendation on the budget request pending completion of a revised Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan in the spring. We recommend the Legislature require the department to report at budget hearings with additional detail on its implementation time line and plans to hire additional peace officer staff.

Farrell v. Allen Court Case. In January 2003, a lawsuit, Farrell v. Allen (later changed to Farrell v. Hickman), was filed against the California Youth Authority (CYA), contending that CYA fails to provide adequate care and effective treatment programs to incarcerated wards. Issues raised in the court case include (1) high levels of violence in the facilities, (2) abusive and punitive measures carried out by custody staff, and (3) inadequate provision of mental health, sex offender, and substance abuse treatment for wards.

In November 2004, the administration entered into a consent decree in the Farrell case and agreed to develop and implement remedial plans that addressed operational and programmatic deficiencies identified by court experts in six areas: education, sex behavior treatment, disabilities, health care, mental health, and general corrections. After reviewing other youth correctional systems such as those in Texas and Florida, however, the administration decided to broaden the scope of reform at CYA. In addition to correcting the specific deficiencies in the expert reports, the administration announced that it would fundamentally transform CYA into a ďrehabilitative modelĒ of care and treatment for youthful offenders. The state and plaintiffs agreed to a fall 2005 deadline for the department to complete a Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan, which would serve as the General Corrections Remedial Plan required by Farrell as well as a plan for implementing the new model. Three of the other remedial plans (education, sex offender, and disabilities) were completed in the first half of 2005 and received funding in the 2005-06 Budget Act. In a separate write-up later in this chapter, we discuss the Health Care Remedial Plan. The administration has not yet submitted a budget request to implement the Mental Health Remedial Plan.

Major Features of the Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan. In December 2005, the department submitted the Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan to the court. Generally, the goals of the plan are to increase safety and security in DJJ facilities and provide effective treatment services to wards based on their individual needs. To that end, the plan proposes a number of changes, including intentions to:

The remedial plan also proposes to contract out the incarceration and programming of DJJís approximately 130 female wards to private providers. The five living units they currently occupy at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility would be backfilled with male wards. In addition, the plan envisions transferring a few male wards with significant medical, mental, or developmental needs to alternative providers (such as county programs).

A key element of the plan involves gradually reducing the number of wards in each living unit to less than 40. Currently, up to 60 wards occupy certain living units. To do this, the plan proposes to reopen living units that are currently closed and transfer a number of wards to them. The plan proposes to phase in additional custody and treatment staff in the units over a four-year period. In the budget year, 20 living units would receive additional staff, followed by another 20 units in 2007-08, and the remaining units (up to about 60) by the end of 2009-10.

Governorís Budget Proposal. The Governorís budget presents a multiyear funding proposal to implement the Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan. When the plan is fully rolled out in 2009-10, the annual cost is proposed to be $94†million for support of 828 additional staff, as shown in Figure†2. (The budget notes that the requested resources are based on an average daily population of 2,800 incarcerated wards. The actual amount of staff and funding needed in the out-years would be adjusted through the annual population adjustment process.) This represents a significant increase in funding and staffing levels. In 2004-05, support for the stateís youth correctional system totaled $420†million and about 3,700 positions.

 

Figure 2

Proposed Positions and Funding
To Implement Safety and Welfare Remedial Plana

2005‑06 Through 2009‑10
(Dollars in Millions)

 

Positions

Cost

2005‑06

25

$5.2

2006‑07

360

42.3

2007‑08

200

22.2

2008‑09

142

14.8

2009‑10

101

9.3

  Totals

828

$93.8

 

a  Based on an average daily population of 2,800 incarcerated wards.

 

The budget proposes that when the plan is fully implemented there would be 651 positions and $58.5†million for enhanced custody and treatment staffing at the living units. These additional staff include peace officer positions such as youth correctional officers and youth correctional counselors, as well as treatment staff such as psychologists. The budget also requests 177 positions and $17.9†million for various facilities and headquarters staff. In addition, the budget requests $9.5†million for consultants to provide training to staff and assist in the development and implementation of treatment programs, as well as $7.9†million to contract with nonstate providers to house and treat DJJís female ward population.

Plan and Budget Request to Be Revised, Withhold Recommendation. The Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan was filed concurrently with a settlement agreement reached between the state and plaintiffs. The agreement requires the department to retain five juvenile justice reform experts to revise the Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan. The experts are to use the current plan as a guideline in developing the revised plan, which must be completed and submitted to the court by March†30, 2006. Taking into account the revisions, the department must submit a final Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan to the court by June 30, 2006.

Our discussions with the experts indicate that they could make a number of changes to the December 2005 plan, including changing the number and types of staff assigned to the facilities and adding recommendations on parole reform. The department has advised us that it will submit a new budget change proposal in the spring based on these changes. We therefore withhold recommendation pending receipt of the revised remedial plan and budget proposal.

Preliminary Proposal Lacks Detail on Implementation Time Frames. While the proposed rehabilitative model has merit, we are concerned that the departmentís initial implementation plan is not sufficiently detailed. This makes it difficult for the Legislature to evaluate the feasibility of the proposed reforms. For example, the administration proposes to transition 20 living units, including five currently closed units, to the new model in the budget year. Yet, the Governorís proposal does not provide a time line detailing exactly when, and in what order, these conversions will occur throughout the year.

Vacancy Problems May Hinder Implementation. An important element of the Governorís proposal to implement the Safety and Welfare Remedial Plan involves adding a total of about 250 youth correctional counselors, senior youth correctional counselors, youth correctional officers, parole agents, sergeants, and lieutenants to DJJ facilities beginning in the budget year. These staff, which have peace officer status, are responsible for supervising wards and ensuring their safety. Based on a report prepared by the State Controllerís Office, however, about 10†percent (or 150) of these positions were vacant as of December 2005. The CDCR expects the number of vacancies among youth correctional peace officer positions to increase further in the current and budget years due primarily to the enhanced retirement benefit (3†percent at 50) provided under the Bargaining Unit 6 contract. The Governorís budget proposes to expand the capacity of the training academy for youth correctional staff beginning in the budget year. Yet, even taking into account the proposed expansion, the department anticipates vacancies to grow to about 350 in 2006-07, a vacancy rate of over 20†percent. Given this projection, it is unclear how the department plans to fill hundreds of new positions as proposed in the Governorís budget.

We recommend that the Legislature require the department to report at budget hearings with additional detail on its implementation plans, as well as its plans to hire additional youth correctional counselors and other peace officer staff.

Request for Funding to Implement Health Care Remedial Plan Is Premature

We withhold recommendation on $7.5†million requested by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for funding and positions to implement the Juvenile Health Care Remedial Plan. This is because the request is premature, as the Legislature has not yet received a copy of the remedial plan upon which the budget proposal is based.

Budget Request. The department requests $7.5†million and 90 full-time positions to implement the Juvenile Health Care Remedial Plan. The remedial plan is one of the component requirements of the Farrell v. Hickman settlement agreement, which requires the department to improve the quality of care and treatment provided to wards in DJJ facilities. Toward that end, the budget requests funding for additional health care staff at headquarters and DJJ facilities, as well as for medical and dental equipment.

Analystís Concern and Recommendation. The budget request is premature because the Legislature has not yet received a copy of the remedial plan. This makes it impossible for the Legislature to evaluate the extent to which the budget proposal is consistent with the remedial plan. Accordingly, we withhold recommendation on the budget request pending receipt and review of the remedial plan.


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