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Some San Diego Parents Still Paying For Kids Time In Juvenile Hall, One-Year After ‘Remain In Mexico’ Policy, And Weekend Events Preview

 February 14, 2020 at 9:36 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego is still collecting a years old juvenile justice fees from parents and some Valentine's day arts events coming up on the weekend preview I'm wearing off. This is KPBS mid day edition. Speaker 1: 00:23 It's Friday, February 14th, California was the first state in the nation to stop the practice of charging parents for their children's time in juvenile detention. But the law was not retroactive and some parents in San Diego are still paying the bill and investigation by Cal matters found that 22 California counties are still collecting fees from parents with juvenile hall expenses accrued before January, 2018 and San Diego leads the pack. Joining me is Cal matters. Reporter Jackie bots and Jackie, welcome to the program. Hi, thanks so much for having me. Tell us the story if you will, of the San Diego family profiled in your report. The Simmons family, they're still paying a large juvenile justice bill. Yeah, that's right. Um, I spoke with a family in Ramona, California. Andrew Simmons and his wife are foster parents. It opted six siblings, age zero through nine who had had a rough childhood. One of their sons started getting in trouble with the law and his, um, later teen years. And he spent a lot of time in juvenile hall and homes to provision between 2013 and 2015. So the Simmons started getting these bills from San Diego County, uh, which were shocking to them. They never expected to be billed. They were getting charged $31 for a day for basically room and board costs in juvenile detention for the 400 days or some spent in juvenile hall and $20 per day for the 53 Speaker 2: 01:55 days he spent in, in homes to provision between 2013 and 2015. So that added up, it ended up adding up to nearly $14,000 that they owed the County. Um, and at the time their finances were, were break even. According to Andrew Simmons, uh, both he and his wife have good jobs, but with the six kids who had a lot of needs, they weren't in a position, he said to pay up and they never did. Uh, so the County, um, ended up filing a lien on their house in 2016 which means they can't sell or refinance, uh, without paying up the debt first. In 2017, their state tax refund was intercepted. Um, and they've gotten these threatening letters saying that, uh, Andrew, someone's wife's wages will be garnished. Speaker 1: 02:39 Jackie, how much is San Diego owed overall in these fees? So the latest figures come from the end of 2019 of the most recent data is that San Diego is currently still collecting on about $41 million in juvenile fees. That's down from the amount that they were when Speaker 2: 03:00 California passed the new law to stop collecting fees. It's down about 3.6 million in fees that they've actually been able to collect. And then they've closed about 14.5 million worth of, of accounts because, for example, they determined the family was unable to pay or the debt was too old. Speaker 1: 03:17 Now, California, as we've been mentioning, stopped this practice in 2018. What were the reasons for the change? Speaker 2: 03:23 It's very much rooted in a social policy from the 1970s and 1980s. Uh, the thinking went that parents would have more incentive to keep their children out of trouble if they were held liable for it. And also the taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for quote unquote bad parenting. Um, and I will say this is still a very common practice in the adult justice system. People are charged for the cost of, uh, administrative costs of their incarceration. Speaker 1: 03:51 Didn't they find out that this was making people go back to jail up more because their family was so stressed with all the financial obligations. Speaker 2: 04:01 So in 2017, um, Senator Holly Mitchell and, uh, Los Angeles Democrat introduced a bill to stop eliminating the fees and that really came out of a growing recognition that families of color were much more likely to bear, uh, the burden of this debt than white families. And research also began to indicate that coming out of juvenile hall with debt was actually correlated with minors going on to commit another offense. From an economic standpoint, counties don't really have a great rate of collection on these fees often because we're talking about families that are already struggling, struggling economically. Speaker 1: 04:39 Now you contacted a member of San Diego's board of supervisors. What did he tell you about why San Diego is still pursuing these fees? Speaker 2: 04:46 I talked to, uh, the chair of San Diego boards, County board of supervisors, that supervisor Greg Cox, he said that the funds are needed for, and I'm quoting valuable services that help our youth. So he mentioned, um, that these fees that are collected by the County pay for public safety services such as the cost of housing youth in detention, and to offset a portion of the cost of their legal representation. Speaker 1: 05:13 It, but it's costing San Diego quite a bit to collect on the fees, isn't it? Speaker 2: 05:17 Yeah, that's right. It does cost money to pay staff to collect on fees or otherwise you contract with an outside agency like a declaration agency or the state, a tax agency to garnish their wages or intercept their taxes. So San Diego, for example, spends about 60 cents, um, on collection efforts for every dollar that it collects for an in juvenile fees. Speaker 1: 05:45 What did some other counties do? Did they just waive the fees? Speaker 2: 05:49 Yeah, that's right. Um, plenty of counties, uh, 36 and all decided to either formally discharge the fees or just stop [inaudible]. Speaker 1: 05:58 So did you hear from supervisor Cox that the County might consider stopping the collection of these juvenile justice fees? Speaker 2: 06:05 He said that he is willing to consider a review this year, the collection of the funds and he said he would discuss it further with his colleagues. I haven't heard from him since the story was published. Speaker 1: 06:15 Okay then. Well, I appreciate it. I've been speaking with Cal matters reporter Jackie Botts. Jackie, thank you for your time. Thank you. It's been just over a year since the United States began returning asylum seekers to Mexico under the remain in Mexico program. KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler gives us a look at how the program is playing out South of the border. Speaker 3: 06:46 Remain in Mexico. Came to Tijuana in the form of a 55 year old Honduran man walking down the ramp from the Santa Cedure port of entry on January 29th of last year. He was the first asylum seeker return to Mexico under the controversial migrant protection protocols or more commonly known as remain in Mexico. Since that day, more than 57,000 asylum seekers have followed in his footsteps across the Southwest border, returned to Mexico to wait for their day in immigration court in the U S the department of Homeland security said it created the program to prevent asylum seekers from being released in the U S before their asylum hearings. A program they call catch and release. DHS and customs and border protection declined repeated requests for an interview for this story with KPBS. It says the remain in Mexico program is currently under internal review, but the administration of this program by DHS has placed migrants directly into danger. Asylum seekers have faced violence and persecution while waiting in Tijuana and have been virtually unable to access legal assistance. On top of that, Mexican authorities say they have their hands tied. They are simply complying with the wishes of the Trump administration. Speaker 4: 08:01 [inaudible] always tells me there's [inaudible] the style from Neal's [inaudible] Speaker 3: 08:07 Zeus, Alejandro Ruiz [inaudible]. eBay is the federal delegate who act as the liaison between the Baha state government and Mexico's president. He spoke with KPBS last week in Tijuana. Andres Manuel Lopez, Obrador Mexico's president allowed remain in Mexico to expand and began a crackdown on immigration along Mexico Southern border. After the Trump administration threatened the country with crippling tariffs. Give us a little is still we read. They says that the goal for Mexican authorities has been to treat the migrants returned to Mexico with dignity. To that end, he says the government has opened up a hostel for migrants with social and health services and even tries to provide jobs for them. The Mexican government doesn't keep track of what happens to the migraines. Returned to Mexico. Many faced with a months long wait, enter the United States by jumping offense or walking through the desert. Some go back to their home country. Others fall victim to violence in the border cities. A report from the organization. Human rights first found that over 816 people in the program have been murdered, tortured, or attacked while waiting in Mexico for their court hearing. In late November, a 35 year old Salvadorian man was killed in Tijuana after being sent back to Mexico with his wife and kids. According to the coroner's report obtained by KPBS, the man was dismembered. Speaker 2: 09:28 Really no comparison. Uh, it's as if the border has descended into darkness and we're all just doing the best that we can to ensure that people survive. Speaker 3: 09:38 Nicole Ramos is a lawyer with the organization. I'll throw a lotto which has provided legal and humanitarian support to asylum seekers in Tijuana Speaker 2: 09:46 at our office in Tijuana. We literally have had victims of human trafficking come to our office after escaping their traffickers and we ourselves have been faced with date personal danger as we're forced to find places for people to hide. Speaker 3: 10:01 More than 27,500 people have been returned to the two Juana Mexicali region from along the border to get to court. They have to line up early in the morning in Tijuana to be bus to downtown San Diego for their hearings. Less than 3% of those in court in San Diego have been able to find a lawyer. As legal service providers are stretched thin and private lawyers are fearful of traveling to see their clients in Mexico. We they, the federal delegate says the future of the program hinges on November's presidential election because you're sending this person listening to this and he says that American voters will be the ones who decide if the program and America's current policy towards migrants along the Southern border will continue into Juana max with Lynn Adler, K PBS news, Speaker 1: 10:53 happy Valentine's day. Love and culture go hand in hand on this weekend preview. We're looking at a love song production by the San Diego ballet plus civic art, surf punk at the Oregon pavilion and a local band writing original music for an award winning play journey. Me as KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon Evans, Julia, welcome. Hi Marine. The San Diego ballet presents a romance filled performance, dances of love and laughter and that's all weekend long. What can we expect? Speaker 5: 11:24 Well, if you want to get fancy and celebrate romance this weekend, it looks like a really joyful and diverse lineup. I like that it's not taking itself too seriously. Voices of spring, in fact, is this pretty famous choreography by the Royal ballet's Frederick Ashton. It's set to the Freeling Shiman waltz by Johann Strauss, and it's actually kind of cheeky, but it's still very Regal and traditional Speaker 3: 12:05 [inaudible] Speaker 5: 12:06 and it's the San Diego premiere of that choreography, which is kind of amazing since it's from 1977 and also in the program, San Diego valleys. Favorite romantic pieces set to teens by Nat King Cole, Roberta flack and Rachmaninoff to name a few and plus artistic director. Have you ever Alaska's interpretation of a Midsummer night's dream to quote the barred the course of true love. Naira did run smooth, ain't that the truth? The San Diego ballet performs dancers of love and laughter at the Lyceum theater tonight and Saturday at 8:00 PM and on Sunday at two 30 in the afternoon, the Greek gods give love and odd twist of their own in a West coast debut at the old globe, Pulitzer prize finalist playwright Madeline George brings her play. Hurricane Diane to San Diego. Tell us a little bit about hurricane Diane. Yeah. So this played just opened at the Oak globe last night. It's a reimagination of the story of the Greek God Dionysus. Speaker 5: 13:08 If Dionysus returned to the modern world and what the globe described as a Butch Gardner called Diane, she is tasked with seducing a bunch of Housewives. What's more romantic than that? For Valentine's day? Nothing. Now the old globe tapped a local band to write an original score for this production. Tell us about the music. Yeah, the band is golden howl based in San Diego. They have this folksy and soulful indie sound and what I've heard from their songwriting and composition is really impressive. Not only did golden hell write the music, they did musical direction for the plays run here. So what did that involved and they were pretty involved in the production. They wrote music lyrics and theatrical harmonies and they produced their recordings with San Diego producer Jeff Berkley. They also work closely with the casting crew, taught the actors the songs too. Let's listen to a clip from golden hell performing some of their original music for hurricane Diane Speaker 6: 14:12 sober. [inaudible] Dionysus. So day we're seniors. You have stung us with ducks to Sealy posts. You had turned us from the kitchen, the fish store, Speaker 1: 14:50 the Globes production of hurricane Diane will run through March 8th now a brand new exhibition that celebrates public art opens on Saturday at the central library. What's that all about? Speaker 5: 15:01 Well, this is a small fraction of the city of San Diego's civic art collection plus new works by contemporary San Diegans. In kind of a conversation with those pieces and the title, Speaker 1: 15:13 the exhibition is fear no art. What does fear have to do with public art? Speaker 5: 15:18 Well, as I asked the curator, Dr. Lara Bullock about this and she said that their aim in this exhibition and with the civic art collection in general is to show San Diegans that art doesn't have to be intimidating by interacting with are seeing it everywhere and it sparking discussions and learning. The more people will feel like there are no barriers to creating or consuming art, it's to break down the fear. How big is the city civic art collection? It's big around 800 pieces, but what's impressive to me is the scope. So there is a portal on the city website where you can explore the collection online or you can find um, public art pieces on display using an interactive map of the city. Speaker 1: 16:06 Fear. No art opens on Saturday at the central library gallery with a reception at noon and the exhibition runs through mid-May. Now speaking of public art, there's something unexpected happening at Spreckels organ pavilion on Saturday night punk rock, Speaker 5: 16:22 the frites are coming home to perform a free Alegis show at the Balboa park, Oregon pavilion and they started in Poway. So they kind of have that blink one 82 Cinderella story arc going for them. Speaker 1: 16:35 They have a brand new album out, everything seems like yesterday. Tell us about their sound. Speaker 5: 16:40 Well, they're classified as surf punk, which makes more sense with our earlier work. The early stuff is real gritty, kind of like the strokes, but this new album is almost tender. It really seems stripped down sonically mellow, but emotionally rot, like a good Valentine's antidote. Speaker 7: 17:10 [inaudible] Speaker 1: 17:11 the frites perform a free all ages show at the Spreckels organ pavilion on Saturday at 8:00 PM. Be sure to subscribe to the weekly KPBS arts news letter to get stories, news, and events in San Diego's art scene. Sign up and find more arts events at I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor, Julia Dixon, Evans and Julia. Thank you. Thank you.

Despite a 2018 law banning the practice of charging parents for juvenile detentions, tens of thousands of parents are still stuck with hefty bills. Plus, just a little over a year ago President Trump’s “Remain In Mexico” policy took effect. The situation remains desperate for thousands of migrants in Mexican border cities. And, there are loads of art events around town for Valentine’s Day weekend. We have a preview.