Rehabilitation Focus Rather than Punishment: Turning Lives Around
The Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility, known colloquially as Juvenile Hall, was awarded the 2013 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award on October 10. This is a national award given to correction, detention and community based facilities that provide safe, effective programs that help turn around the lives of youths in the juvenile justice system.
“We have made a great deal of improvements during the last few years, and despite the budget challenges we’ve faced we are making changes that improve children’s lives,” said Lee Seale, Chief Probation Officer. “We are extremely pleased that our hard work is being recognized.”
The Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility was selected based on their utilization of PbS, also known as Performance-based Standards. These standards were created to improve the quality of life and rehabilitation services available at various detention facilities. The facility was among 30 applicants for the award, but was selected for best exemplifying the core principles of the Performance-based Standards Program: treating youths in custody as one of their own.
Sacramento County Probation accomplished this by cutting the duration of time youth spend in isolation and room confinement by 76 percent. They also encourage staff to be part of the solution in the lives of youths by emphasizing rehabilitation rather than punishment. The Probation Department provides behavior management training and supports open communication between administration, supervisors and front line staff to create a partnership focused on helping youth.
“The detention center truly utilized and encouraged their staff to be part of the solution,” says Simon Gonsoulin, a Principal Research Analyst for the American Institute for Research. “They opened the lines of communication between administration/supervisors and front line staff in a non-threatening manner that was established as a true partnership.”
Russ Jennings, an expert consultant with Performance-Based Standards agrees. “Sacramento County Probation is a national model in its use of data to continuously improve outcomes for the youths in its custody.”
The Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility has also been nationally recognized in recent years for its success in reducing uses of force and injuries to both youths and staff.
About PbS (Performance-based Standards):
The PbS program was created by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 1994 to improve conditions of confinement. The goal was to set standards for best practices that would result in positive outcomes for youths, staff and families. The award ceremony was held in Chicago with the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators All-Directors Leadership Institute.