California Youth Authority
The California Youth Authority (CYA), now known as the California Division
of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), is a division of the California Department
of Corrections and Rehabilitation that provides education, training, and
treatment services for California's most serious juvenile offenders
between the ages of 12 – 25. CYA is also home to juveniles under
the age of 18 who have been prosecuted in adult court.
It is the largest youth correctional system in the United States, housing
approximately 6,000 juveniles and young adults in five institutions and
two forestry camps with an additional 4,000 under parole supervision.
Los Angeles County is home to one of these facilities, the Southern Youth
Correctional Facility in the city of Norwalk which is an all-male facility.
The other CYA institutions are: Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in
Camarillo, Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Ione, O.H. Close Youth
Correctional Facility in Stockton and N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional
Facility in Stockton. Preston Youth Correctional Facility is the only
facility equipped to house very young male wards and N.A. Charderjian
Youth Correctional Facility is a maximum security facility only housing
the worst offenders between the ages of 18-24. It has also been projected
that the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center will close down
sometime in 2012. Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp in Pine Grove and
S. Carraway Public Service and Fire Center in Camarillo are the two CYA
forestry camps which allow offenders to integrate with the community under
supervision where they learn social skills and are involved in stream
clearance and fire prevention tasks.
In theory, these facilities operate under a treatment and training concept
and offer a vast array of services tailored to fit juvenile inmate's
needs, including mental health services, substance abuse treatment services,
sexual behavior treatment services and special education services. On
top of specific programs, these facilities are also required by law to
provide high school education to every juvenile not already possessing
a degree. Most facilities also offer practical vocational training to
the inmates. However, in reality, CYA operates similarly to adult prisons.
The facilities are riddled with extreme violence, abuse by staff, suicide
by inmates and a vast deterioration in the special services these facilities
claim to offer. Moreover, it is also commonplace for inmates, such as
known gang associates, violent or disruptive inmates, to be kept from
educational programs for safety reasons. Due to budget cuts, CYA facilities
continue to close, leading to overcrowding in the current operating facilities.
There are, however, alternative treatment programs that take the place
of CYA. If you or your child are interested in exploring options to CYA
commitment, contact a criminal defense attorney with knowledge of the
juvenile justice system to discuss your options.
If your child is convicted of a crime in Los Angeles County, he or she
may be facing temporary placement outside of the home (camp placement)
or a sentence at the California Youth Authority for an indefinite period
of time until the age of 25. The California Youth Authority closely resembles
a California state prison for adults. In a worst-case scenario, the child
may be tried as an adult and receive the same sentence as an adult if
If your child is facing criminal charges in Los Angeles County, consult
with criminal defense attorneys Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to
assist your child in staying out of the California Youth Authority and
minimizing the effect of a criminal charge on the child's future.