Children Under 13 Will No Longer Be Detained in Santa Clara

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Beginning July 1, children aged 12 years and younger in Santa Clara County will no longer be subjected to detention at juvenile hall, reports El Observador.

The policy changes were recommended by the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, following the release of a report from the local Juvenile Justice Commission that examined case files of 30 youth from that age group who had been housed in juvenile detention centers.

The vast majority of those children were found to have pre-existing circumstances that would have been better addressed through treatment at a clinic, medical center, or community-based organization.

More than half had documented histories of physical or sexual abuse, 11 had mental health diagnoses, and 18 had a parent who was incarcerated, missing or dead. In all, 27 of the 30 children had at least one of the issues detailed in the report.

Other counties in the Bay Area have struggled to answer the question of what to do with children who have serious behavioral problems. Youth Guidance Center in San Francisco has a history of detaining children as young as 11 years old. Fremont, on the other hand, has reported success over the past four years, utilizing a model similar to the one just adopted in Santa Clara.