With L.A. County closer than ever to a $48 million overhaul of Camp Kilpatrick – a juvenile probation camp in Malibu – a pair of researchers say the transformation could set a new paradigm for juvenile justice in the county.
In a policy paper released Dec. 3, UCLA Professor Jorja Leap and Michelle Newell of the Children's Defense Fund - California point out flaws in the way L.A. County handles juvenile offenders. They also make suggestions for rebuilding it in a way that reflects new research on juvenile justice.
"We want to go from punishment to rehabilitation," Leap said in a phone interview. "Stop these youth from entering the adult criminal justice system in the future."
Currently, probation camps in L.A. follow the boot-camp, barracks style, Leap and Newell wrote. Despite improvements in the system, they wrote: "most youth in the camps (as in the rest of the country) are still subjected to some discredited and outdated approaches based largely on control and coercion."
Kids often have a lot of free time, with little available programming.
Models used elsewhere in the country house juvenile offenders in cottages and focus entirely on treatment and developing social and decision-making skills. Those programs, they write, have much better outcomes for children.
As the plans for Kilpatrick flesh out, the researchers recommend probation officials and county politicians keep a number of goals for the camp in mind:
- Adapt proven models from elsewhere to L.A.'s unique population.
- Use the camp as a testing ground for programs that can be replicated in other camps.
- Keep better data on kids' outcomes.
Read the complete policy paper below: