Juvenile Crimes Attorney - Juvenile Lawyer


The California Youth Authority southern reception center
in Norwalk, California
Copyright 2001-2018, George Kita


The California Youth Authority now called Division of Juvenile Justice, has earned a reputation as a dangerous place for children.

CYA was not set up to house first time juvenile offenders arrested for relatively minor offenses. Many violent gang members, sexual offenders, and other violent and repeat offenders are housed there.

CYA was first opened in 1943 as a reform school. Today it functions similar to adult state prisons. In 1996, more than 10,000 individuals were housed at CYA. At the time, about 8,500 of the individuals were juveniles and 1,500 were young adults.

Over the past eight years, prosecutors have punished more juveniles in adult court. In 2002, the California District Attorneys Association campaigned to get the "Juvenile Crime Initiative" otherwise known as Proposition 21 passed by the voters. Proposition 21 allows the prosecution to longer have to ask the juvenile court judge permission to pursue a criminal case against a child in adult court. Under Proposition 21, children 14 years of age or older charged with committing certain types of serious felonies could be directly prosecuted in adult court.

This has contributed to a decline in population at the California Youth Authority which in today only has about 1700 wards compared to 4,300 in 2004 and some 8 years prior to that over 10,0000. The average time that a youth spends on parole is 40 months. Ninety five percent of the youths currently housed at CYA have been convicted of serious and violent crimes.

In 2003, there were 4,534 CYA cases. There were 73 California Department of Correction Cases. There were also 4,120 children on parole at the time. There were six children 13 years of age and under housed at CYA.There were 20 children 14 and under housed there.There were 89 children 15 years of age housed there. There were 299 children 16 years of age housed there. There were 642 children 17 years of age housed there. There were 1,033 young men 18 years of age housed there. There were 931 young men 19 years of age housed there. There were 693 young men age 20 years of age housed there. There were 293 young men 21 years of age housed there. There were 528 young men 22 years of age and older housed there. In 2003, there were 10 insitituions, 4 conservation camps, and 16 Parole Offices. The highest commiting counties that sent children to CYA were Los Angeles County with 25% followed by Alameda County 5%, San Diego 5%, Santa Clara 4%, Sacramento 4%, Kern County 2% and San Francisco County 1%. The average length of stay of for children who were paroled in 2003 were 34.9 months. The average length of stay for children first paroled for serious felonies were as follows: 87.2 months for murder in the first degree, 94.7 months for murder in the second degree, 51.1 months for manslaughter, 40.6 months for enhanced robbery, felony assault 63.6 months, 59.5 months for forcible rape. By race, 49% of the children housed at CYA were Hispanic, followed by 30% for African American, and 16% were white, 3% for Asian, and 2% for others.

By contrast, in 2009, there 1,278 DJJ cases. There were 103 Department of Correction cases. The average length of stay for DJJ first paroles were 36.5 months. For murder in the first degree the average parole date was 59.9 months, for murder in second degree it was 71.3 months, forcible rape 53.8 months,felony assault 51.7 months, other sex offenses 46.3 months. The majority of children housed at DJJ were minorities. 53.6 % were Hispanic, 29.9% were Black, 12.4% were White, 2.2% were Asian and 2% were others. Los Angeles County commited the most children to DJJ with 27.2%, followed by Kern County 8.8%, San Diego 7.4%, Alameda County 5.1%, Santa Clara 1.1% and San Francisco 0.5%. In the past five years, San Francisco County has been the most vocal in refusing to send children to DJJ thanks to the efforts of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and his staff.

Children prosecuted in adult court are moved out of CYA at the age of 18 and housed in general adult prisons to serve the remainder of their prison time. By contrast, minors prosecuted in juvenile court would at the maximum serve their time up to the age of 25 years of age at CYA depending on the nature of the charge.

In addition, recent legislation (SB81, AB 191) directing many youth offenders to be housed in county facilities also led to a reduction in population at CYA.

Accordingly, fewer juveniles are committed to the California Youth Authority and more children are committed to serve time in adult state prisons for much lengthier sentences including life. It costs California $252,000 annually for each child housed at CYA. The CYA houses individuals between the ages of 12-25. The California Youth Authority at one time used to operate eleven locations and four youth forestry camps.

But due to budget cuts over the years, CYA now only has six correctional facilities and two youth forestry camps.

The Correctional facilities are N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, Herman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility in Chino, Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Ione, the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo, and the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic in Norwalk, California. The two Youth Conservation Camps are as follows: the "mountain" (Pine Grove) and one facility called the S. Carraway Public Service and Fire Center which is a Youth Camp in Ventura. Both Youth Conservations camps are jointly operated with CAL Fire. Youths at the conservation camps are involved in stream clearance, fire prevention tasks and restoration work.

Copyright 2001, George Kita

Every year children and CYA staff reportedly become victims of violent attacks by others while at the California Youth Authority.

In 1996, one inmate murdered a prison guard at the California Youth Authority. The inmate had repeatedly beaten, stabbed and strangled the guard then placed her body in a trash bin then carried it past prison guards before dumping her body in a trash dumpster. The dead body was found in a Pomona Landfill two days later.

In December 2003, one juvenile suffered multiple puncture wounds to his lower leg when a California Youth Authority guard allowed his dog to attack a juvenile inmate who was following orders and lying on the floor. In an effort to clean up its bad image, the California Youth Authority decided to ask Prosecutors to file criminal assault charges against that officer.

Since 1996, 16 children committed suicide. In January 2004, two 18 year olds committed suicide. They could not tolerate the horrible day to day problems at the California Youth Authority. They were found hanging in their cells.

At one CYA facility in Chino, prison guards used mace four times a day on children. Attacks by other inmates occurred 10 times in a day, during a four month period in 2003. The California Inspector General Matthew Cate visited the Stark facility three times in 2006 made written findings of the following: That Inspections of cells designed for hard-to-manage wards found that more than half had prohibited items, from fabrics used to cover cell windows to make shift ropes. That many of the wards had blocked out their window preventing guards from seeing inside. In addition, one ward had constructed a large punching bag in his cell, another had 17 Styrofoam cups filled with pruno, or homemade alcohol. Conditions at the facility "present an environment conducive to suicide attempts and potentially dangerous to staff," Cate wrote. (Due to budget cuts, this facility is scheduled to be closed at the end of February of 2010.)

A recent death remains unexplained. The death occured on Sunday September 5, 2004 at N.A. Chaderjain Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton. The cause of death has yet to be determined. This is the same facility where CYA counselors were caught on a videotape punching and kicking two wards in January 2004.

Violence goes all the way up the chain of command.

The Superintendent of Stockton's N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility had his position terminated in August 2005 for reportedly grabbing a handcuffed wards hair and jaw after he was being escorted to another unit after a fight involving 44 youths in May 27, 2005, according to the Inspector General Matthew Cate. The Inspector General concluded that ward was already under safe control when the incident occurred and therefore the incident violated the use of force policy. In addition, the Inspector General concluded that the failure to report the incident by employees who witnessed the incident should be disciplined.

On August 31, 2005, Joseph Daniel Maldonado, 18 of Sacramento hanged himself. His death marks the third death in eighteen months following a poisoning case and a unsolved case at Stockton's Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility.

The San Luis Obispo Grand Jury that examined Paso Robles Youth Correctional Facility in 2000 made a finding that CYA used "excessive chemical restraints."

Children are often treated like animals in a zoo. A state study recently found that children were often "locked in cages as punishment." They would receive their schooling while they were sitting all day in little individualized cages. The state study also found that those with mental problems are "frequently drugged and improperly cared for."

The California Youth Authority has been a failure when it comes to providing treatment and help. At the El Paso de Robles Youth Correctional Facility, the entire medical department staff informed the facility's Superintendent on May 31, 2001 that mental health care services cannot be provided to everyone due to a "virtually intolerable" workload. There was only one full time psychologist and one part time contract psychiatrist to serve 750 wards, 91 of which had histories of suicide attempts and more than 200 wards were on the waiting list.

Concerning the CYA sex offender program, in December of 1999, there were 1,052 sex offenders but only 259 beds. In March 2001 there were 1,102 identified sex offenders in CYA institutions but only 312 in treatment beds. In April of 2002, there were 783 children in need of sex offender treatment but there were only 169 specailized treatment beds.

Children also do not get the minimum required education at the California Youth Authority. The California Education Code section 46141 requires 240 minutes of education per student per day. The California Youth Authority fails to meet this legal requirement. Classes are routinely cancelled at the various CYA institutions. Childen at the Ventura Youth Correctional Factility received only 54% of their required educational curriculum. Approximtely 644 classes were cancelled each month according to the Office of Inspector General Mangagement Review Audit in June 2002. At another CYA facility, children were discouraged to attend school and were required to perform janitorial duties of their units during school hours.

Approximately one third of the CYA high school population receive special education. However, these students do not receive the required individual Educational Plan (IEP) services.

As a result of the CYA abuses and inadequate treatment and living conditions, a lawsuit was filed in January 2003 by the nonprofit Prison Law Office, Disability Rights Advocates with the help of volunteer attorneys against the California Youth Authority in the case of Farrell vs. Harper. As a result, a consent decree was agreed by the parties in November 2004 and filed with the Superior Court of Alameda County. Donna Brorby was appointed as Special Master. Logan Hopper was hired as an expert in the field of programmatic access for children with disabilities. A very important concession that came out was that the CYA is required to develop a formal criteria for accepting children and to comply with Welfare and Institutions Code section 736. More importantly, the consent decree agreement states that the California Youth Authority "shall not accept more wards than can be materially benefitted by the CYA's reformatory and educational discipline, nor shall the CYA accept wards for whom the CYA does not have adequate facilities."

Despite the November 2004 settlement and consent decree, the CYA continues to fail.

The High School at N.A.Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton was stripped of its accreditation in May 2005 by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. All future Diplomas from this Stockton CYA facility will not carry the WASC accreditation. School administrators quit after brief stints on the job. The school has had four principals since 2002. Teachers still don't show up to work. As a result, the school continues to have declining student test scores.

The Whittier Daily News newspaper has reported that State Senator Gloria Romero stated on July 6, 2007 that she has requested the CYA to investigate claims that bodies of 28 deceased wards are buried at the former Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility. The Senator stated she received an anonymous letter from a person who claimed that he or she worked at the CYA. Nelles remained open for 113 years until budget cuts shut it down in 2004. The burials reportedly took place up to the 1930's.

If your child is facing a commitment to the California Youth Authority, contact the Law Offices of George Kita for a free consultation.

If your child is already committed to the California Youth Authority and is not receiving the services he is required under California law, contact Attorney George Kita to discuss the possibility of bringing your child back to Juvenile Court for possible sentencing modification.

More often than not, many juvenile courts refer children to the California Youth Authority because they struggled in rehabilitation at the local level, such as juvenile hall and camp. The majority of children housed at the California Youth Authority have special needs.

According to the Department of Corrections, 41% of the children housed at CYA are in need of mental health services, 58% are in need of substance abuse treatment services, 22% are in need of sexual behavior treatment services, and 28% are enrolled in special education services.

California Youth Authority has earned a poor reputation. Don't be fooled by the positive spin placed on the "Division of Juvenile Justice." DJJ will always be known as the California Youth Authority despite the recent name change to DJJ. Don't be fooled by the positive spin put on the California Youth Authority by the prosecutor. 

Simply put, there are many better alternatives than DJJ. Fighting occurs daily, and kids get physically hurt on a regular basis. Organized riots also are often planned out. The day to day misery is nothing but cruel and unusual punishment. It is a state prison for children. Your child would be better off with some other alternative such as camp, suitable placement, a residential drug treatment program or other appropriate program. Contact George Kita, Juvenile Defense Lawyer for a free consultation at 626-232-0970 at juvylawyer@aol.com.  There are many better alternatives. Don't wait until your child has already been sentenced to DJJ to consult with a lawyer.

Special Thanks

Special Thanks goes to the individuals who have fought to reform CYA. They include Sue Burell of the Prison Law Office, Latham & Watkins, State Senator Gloria Romero, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and the San Francisco Public Defenders Office, Books not Bars community group members and the many other community groups involved in this cause.


Southern Youth Correctional Youth Reception Center Subject to close on 12/13/11

DJJ employees say Norwalk is best run facility and should stay open

DJJ employees recommend closing Chad in Stockton instead of Norwalk.

Despite many of the shortcomings the CYA has experienced over the years, one of their best run facilities is subject to close on December 13, 2011.

Southern California has gone through two prior closures and this will make the third. If this facility is closed, there will be no juvenile facilities in Southern California. This means that the youth from the Norwalk Facility will be sent to Ventura or Chad in the north and it will be difficult if not impossible for parents to get there.

The Norwalk facility has the highest number of family visitors and the highest number of volunteers of all the DJJ facilities. Norwalk also has the highest number of areas of compliance regarding court mandated changes to take place. Jack B.Clark High School in Norwalk is the #1 ranked high school in DJJ and now they will close it down.

There are four Juvenile Facilities in California, two in the north and two in the south. Southern California suffered the closure of Fred C. Nellis in Whittier, and then HG Stark in Chino. With each closure, the staff and the youth were moved to the next facility. This facility just celebrated the 4th anniversary of a comittment to Peace and Unity.

There is a court mandate that the children be housed close to their families per Farrel v. Allen/Kate lawsuit. Closing the Norwalk facility will be violation of that court order. Many parents will not be able to afford to go see their children. The Governor should close Chad in Stockton instead. The economic impact on all concerned will be far less.

Southern California DJJ employees are requesting that letters should be sent to Governor Jerry Brown and a copy to Secretary Matthew Cate at the following address:

Governor Jerry Brown

c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone (916) 445-2841

Fax (916) 558-3160

Secretary Matthew Cate


1515 S. Street

Sacramento, CA 95814

DJJ Reception Centers and Clinics


Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center

13200 S. Bloomfield Avenue
Norwalk, CA 90650
(562) 868-9979
This facility serves as a reception center-clinic for males.

Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

3100 Wright Road
Camarillo, CA 93010
(805) 485-7951
This facility serves as a reception center-clinic for females.

Preston Youth Correctional Facility

201 Waterman Road
Ione, CA 95640
(209) 274-8000
This facility serves as a reception center-clinic for males.



If you are making a request for school transcripts or to contact the DJJ Headquarters,

please call them directly at

California Youth Authority / Department of Juvenile Justice Office number only (916) 262-1480

How to Request Transcripts

How to Request Transcripts and Certificates from the California Education Authority

Here's how to make your requests:

Transcript Request: Provide the full name, date of birth, social security number, CYA ID #, institution name, daytime phone number, and if applicable, graduation date. Please mail your request with all pertinent information to:

Division of Juvenile Justice
Education Services Branch
4241 Williamsbourgh Drive
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 262-1500

General Educational Development (G.E.D.) Verification: Provide the full name, date of birth, social security number, testing center (DJJ Institution), test date and mother's maiden name.

There is no charge for the Official Report of Test Results, however, there is a $12 charge for the California High School Equivalency Certification.

Please mail your request with all pertinent information to either of these two locations, depending on when the test was taken:

Test taken after July 1990
State Dept. of Education
G.E.D. Office
P.O. Box 710273
Sacramento, CA 94244-02073
(916) 327-0037

Test taken before July 1990
Division of Juvenile Justice
Education Services Branch
4241 Williamsbourgh Drive
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 262-1500

(Official report of test results available only.)

Questions on DJJ - Credits, grading policy or graduation requirements. Please mail your request to:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Division of Juvenile Justice
Education Services Branch
Attention: Robert Block-Brown
4241 Williamsbourgh Drive
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 262-1500

Questions on Special Education - Individual Education Program (IEP) If still a student:
Call the student's high school

If paroled:  Please write or contact:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Division of Juvenile Justice
Education Services Branch
Administrator Special Programs
4241 Williamsbourgh Drive
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 262-1500

Questions on immunization, medical, mental health, substance abuse patient Records -
please write or contact:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Division of Juvenile Justice
Institutions and Camps Branch
Health Care Services Division
4241 Williamsbourgh Drive, Ste. 224
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 262-1180




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Copyright 2018, George Kita

NOTE: This juvenile law crime, site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. The web site of the Law Offices of George Kita has been designed to provide educational information only and is not intended to offer legal advice. His practice is limited to Southern California Courts. There is no express or implied intent to solicit business from outside of California. Nothing herein is intended to constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and outcomes will vary depending on the unique facts and legal issues of your case.