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Public Safety

San Diego Youth And Their Parents Invited To Get First-Hand Look At Juvenile Hall

Juvenile Hall Open House

The San Diego public is invited on Saturday, May 18 for a behind-the-scenes look at the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility.

Juvenile Hall Open House

Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility

9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

2801 Meadow Lark Drive, San Diego

San Diego, CA 92123

More info: (858) 694-4500


The annual open house is an opportunity for parents and their kids to see firsthand what it’s like to be a detainee.

Visitors have the chance to follow the path of youth who are admitted to Juvenile Hall, beginning in the courtroom where a judge orders the youth detained, followed by the booking process and living quarters.

The public will not see any of the offenders who live at the facility.

Visitors will see detainee uniforms, showers and locked rooms that are part of daily life in custody.

“Throughout the tour, our probation officers emphasize the importance of positive decisions and the consequences of illegal behavior," said Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins.


The event will also include approximately 50 booths hosted by probation groups that highlight programs and resources to steer youth in the right direction.

Mack credits the early intervention programs for declining juvenile incarceration and crime rates.

"Over the last four years, we’ve seen a 44 percent decline in the number of youth referred to probation, a 22 percent decline on the number of youth placed on probation," said Mack. "The number of youth coming to juvenile hall has also declined over the last three years."

Mack said approximately 700 inmates between the ages of 12-18 are currently residing in the county’s five juvenile detention facilities.

The Kearny Mesa facility is holding approximately 220 offenders.

Here is a look at the special programs at Juvenile Hall:

<b>Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment</b> – The program is delivered by mental health care professionals and is designed to assist individuals with histories of substance abuse combined with criminal conduct. Using cognitive-behavioral methods, the program's goal is to help replace negative behaviors with positive alternatives.<br><br><b>Thinking for a Change</b> – This is a cognitive-behavioral based program provided by sworn officers assigned to Unit 100. Each Unit 100 detainee is guided through a series of ten classes (using facilitation techniques). Each class focuses on providing positive alternatives to delinquent behavior. Using role-play and objective attachment, each detainee is exposed to positive cognitions, which in turn helps an individual “Think for a Change.”<br><br><b>Character Counts</b> - This is a program based on “The Six Pillars of Character.” Sworn staff lead the detainees through discussions, handouts, and role-play to learn how to make effective and ethical decisions. This program uses the “Six Pillars of Character,” Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.<br><br><b>School</b> – All minors detained at the Juvenile Halls are required to attend school Monday through Friday: Sarah Anthony School at Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility or East Mesa School at East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility. They can earn credit towards receiving their high school diploma or earn their G.E.D.<br><br>Regular meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and visits by Protestant and Catholic Church groups are also available to interested detainees. Should someone of a different faith wish to speak to a clergyman of his own; the Department Chaplain makes every effort to arrange for such visitations.
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