Public safety is about keeping all of us safe, not just by enforcing the law, but also engaging the community in sometimes difficult conversations about how to improve and reform the justice system.
The County is transforming the juvenile justice system to give young people the support and services they need to succeed. A cornerstone of that reform is the construction of a Youth Transition Campus, designed to create rehabilitative and therapeutic spaces in a campus-like setting. It will be completed in January of 2022 and phase two will get underway in the spring of 2022.
Probation also opened a third Achievement Center in La Mesa in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education to provide supportive services to youth in the East County. The County and Office of Education work together to provide an after-school program to help young people who are at risk of returning to juvenile custody. Additional community-based centers are located in Escondido and central San Diego.
The District Attorney’s new pre-file Juvenile Diversion Initiative offers services as an alternative to filing criminal charges against a juvenile. The program connects youth to services that address the underlying cause of unsafe behaviors to keep them out of the juvenile justice system.
Public safety reform will also focus on how to support those with behavioral health needs, including Mobile Crisis Response Teams that will expand countywide to help persons experiencing a mental health crisis. These teams provide an alternative to dispatching law enforcement when someone is in a behavioral health or substance use crisis. For persons in custody, medical care and mental health services are in place but will greatly expand in the coming year with more than 180 new positions dedicated to these services.
Those in County detention facilities can also better maintain connections with family and friends now that phone calls and video visits are free for adults and youth. This important change became effective July 1, 2021 and helps support success as people return to their communities.
The District Attorney’s Office implemented Behavioral Health Court Diversion; a court supervised mental health diversion program for felony offenders with serious mental illness.
The D.A.’s Office also implemented the Workplace Justice Initiative to address wage theft and workplace injustices and is preparing to open One Safe Place: the North County Family Justice Center. The centralized care facility will help trauma survivors and their families.
The Public Defender’s Office is preparing to deploy additional staff to represent and support their clients and to offer a legal defense program for detained immigrants facing removal proceedings by the end of the year.
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