On Wednesday, October 23, 1907, the Superior Court of California appointed a Probation Committee according to the laws of California established in 1903. The committee consisted of three Board of Supervisors and four citizens. They served without compensation and acted as an advisory board. The original committee members were Hugh J. Baldwin, Rev. E. E. Crabtree, Dr. W. F. Gearhart, Mrs. H. A. Ballou, Mrs. Mabel E. O’Farrell, Mrs. A. E. Collins, and Dr. H. C. Oatman.
On November 6, 1907, the Board of Supervisors appointed a sub-committee to study the feasibility of a detention home for children.
Jacob A. Reed was appointed the Probation Officer of San Diego County between November 7, 1907 and February 5, 1908.
The Board of Supervisors purchased a seven-bedroom farmhouse on 1.5 acres in Mission Valley, southwest of the present day Interstate 8 and SR-163 interchange (east of Holiday Inn, west of Seven Seas Motor Lodge) to house juvenile offenders between November 1907 and July 1909.
On August 11, 1909, the County school superintendent was ordered to establish a school at the Detention Home. On November 4, 1909, the Probation Committee nominated Mr. and Mrs. F. Phelps for the position of superintendent and matron of the Detention Home. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved.
The Detention Home served delinquents and dependents, infants and teenagers.
In April 1911, the Probation Committee nominated and the Superior Court appointed, J.A. Reed’s wife, Lillie A. Reed, and Mrs. May Beck, as Assistant Probation Officers. The salary for the Probation Officer was $125 per month. The first assistant was paid $120 per month and second assistant $100 per month.
J. A. Reed and Lillie A. Reed sued the County’s Auditor, Chauncey R. Hammond, after he refused to pay the monthly salaries to the two Assistant Probation Officers on the grounds it was illegal for females to work for county government. The Superior Court and Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Reed’s. Lillie was paid her salary plus interest.
W.E. Blair was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1912.
W.J. Mosher was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1917.
Sarah Anthony became the superintendent of the San Diego Detention Home, which housed 17 children on her first day of February 1, 1919. Children housed at the facility raised chickens, rabbits, vegetables, and bees.
Herbert Sallee was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1920.
Two units were added to the Detention Home in 1923 and a new main unit was added in 1927. Upon completion, the San Diego Detention Home had 20 rooms and an eight-bed dormitory for older boys, 22 rooms for girls, 13 rooms for small boys, three schoolrooms, a manual training shop, 17 bedrooms for staff, and additional offices and rooms for operations.
W.F. Worchester was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1926.
On December 15, 1936 the “Juvenile Mountain Forestry Camp” for older boys was established at the base of Mount Woodson in Ramona. It had a maximum capacity of 38. In 1942 a camp for younger boys was established nearby with a maximum capacity of 22. The boys stayed between 20 to 30 weeks working with a state forester to clear fire breaks during the day and attending school at night. Some of the boys attended Ramona High School. Boys also received shop training.
The San Diego Detention Home was renamed the “Anthony Home” on January 29, 1939 to honor Sarah Anthony. At the time of the name change, 75 children were staying there for a few days to six months. Charges included being a runaway, sex delinquency, theft, drunkenness, and use of narcotics. The Detention Home housed 14,254 boys and girls during Sarah Anthony’s tenure as superintendent from February 1, 1919 to June 15, 1941.
By January 1941, there were 15 sworn probation staff consisting of one Chief Probation Officer, two Supervising Assistant Probation Officers, and 12 Assistant Probation Officers. Nearly everyone had four year degrees and several had completed graduate courses.
Pete Geiser was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1941.
The Anthony Home’s front door had to remain unlocked at all times beginning in 1942 because the Fire Marshal condemned the building. Boys held in the maximum-security unit lived in small six-man tanks with bars, 20-foot concrete walls, no natural light, and a toilet in the middle of the room. Boys were not segregated according to age or charge.
In 1942, there were two Assistant Probation Officers assigned to the Adult Division. They completed 334 pre-sentence reports, which included completing an entire social study on each case. They were responsible for 429 adult probationers by July 1943. Most of their time was spent preparing pre-sentence reports for the courts and collecting restitution from the probationers. Little time was left for supervision.
In 1943, the Probation Committee commissioned the National Probation Association to do a thorough study of the department. The 75-page report entitled, “The Juvenile Delinquency Problem,” focused on the overcrowding at the Anthony Home and the lack of officers to properly supervise the increasing number of delinquents. World War II increased the county’s population from less than 289,000 people in 1940 to 485,000 in 1943.
Between 1940 and 1943 boys' arrests increased 51% and girls’ arrests increased 466%. The most common charges for boys were theft and disorderly conduct. The most common charges for girls were runaway and vagrancy. It was noted that many of the runaway girls were arrested for prostitution.
In June 1943 the average length of stay in the Anthony Home for boys was 15.5 days and for girls it was 32 days. (The boys had Rancho Del Campo to go to.) On average, it took 11 days before the first court hearing for each child. In July 1943, the average daily attendance of the Anthony Home was 78. Sixteen and seventeen year old boys were held in adult jail.
On September 15, 1943, there were 737 children under the department’s jurisdiction. Caseloads varied from 50 to 130, with 92 being the average.
Arther Flakoll was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1944.
After a series of grand jury criticisms, a ballot measure for a $500,000 bond to build a new 100-bed, 5-unit juvenile detention facility on a 10-acre site in Mission Valley was put before the voters in 1948. The Anthony Home would be used for Juvenile Court and Probation offices. It was rejected.
Charles Rogers was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1948.
In 1950, an $875,000 bond to build a new detention home that looked like a dormitory or school but guarded against escapes was put on the November ballot. It passed.
On November 28, 1951, The Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to build a new Juvenile Hall on a recently acquired 20 acre site in Kearny Mesa purchased for $33,275.
In 1954, the average daily attendance of the Anthony Home was 115.
Juvenile Hall was completed at a price of $1,250,000 in 1954. Dedication ceremonies occurred on Monday, June 21, 1954. A tour followed. Ninety-one wards were transferred from the Anthony Home to Juvenile Hall on June 30, 1954. After the move, the Anthony Home’s maximum-security unit served as an adult jail and the school served mentally handicapped children.
The original Kearny Mesa Juvenile Hall included five units with a designed capacity of 111, but could accommodate up to 160 with double bunking. Three units were designed for 68 boys and two units were designed to house 43 girls. The Evening Tribune reported experts called it the finest juvenile detention facility in the United States at the time. Juvenile Hall incorporated all the latest advancements in juvenile detention facilities including: concrete construction, a visual control point, a centralized kitchen, heated carts eliminating the need for a large dining room, individual units, and separate classrooms and play yards from the living unit.
In July 1962, the Probation Department proposed building a new facility for girls to be called the “Girls Rehabilitation Facility” (GRF). After months of struggling to hire a GRF superintendent because of a low salary offering, Marvin D. Smith was hired on April 27, 1963. He was a sociologist and former assistant superintendent of Juvenile Hall. He had 10 children. The GRF program officially began in July 1963 when 18 girls moved into an unused wing in Juvenile Hall. The program emphasized freedom of choice, training in impulse control, acceptance of responsibility, and practice in cooperative living.
In 1965, parents were charged $13 per day to house kids in Juvenile Hall or GRF. They were charged $10 per day for Rancho del Campo.
On December 3, 1966, Las Colinas in Santee was dedicated for use by the Girls Rehabilitation Facility. It housed a maximum of 60 girls ages 14-17, at a construction price of $898,602. Girls served sentences of four to five months.
The Juvenile Probation Center opened in 1967 across from Juvenile Hall.
Due to concerns Rancho del Campo would be condemned, the County decided to build a new boys rehabilitation camp at Camp Elliott in Santee in 1967, but the city denied a building permit. The County also looked at sites in Imperial Beach and Otay Mesa, but never was able to secure construction approval despite having money for the project.
Eddie Weigle served as Acting Chief Probation Officer from July through November 1967.
Kenneth Fare was appointed Chief Probation Officer in November 1967.
Volunteers In Probation (VIP), became incorporated in the summer of 1970. They began recruiting volunteers to work with up to 15,000 probationers. Reuben Garcia was the first VIP ever hired. He was a 47 year old construction worker. The Reverend David Ellisor became the first regularly employed Chaplain/Religious Services Coordinator for VIP.
On June 8, 1971, voters rejected a $12 million bond that would have covered the construction of a new boy’s rehabilitation facility, a new Juvenile Hall in the South Bay, and additions to Juvenile Hall and Juvenile Court. County officials believed Rancho del Campo was beyond economic repair.
Robert MacDonald served as Acting Chief Probation officer from 1976-1977.
In August 1976, the Board of Supervisors transferred Las Colinas to the Sheriff’s Department to be used by incarcerated women, and the girls were sent back to a wing in Juvenile Hall.
Michael Garvey was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1977.
Cecil Steppe was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1980
A new Girls Rehabilitation Facility was dedicated on February 24, 1981. The construction cost $703,500 to refurbish a wing of Juvenile Hall in less than four months.
Juvenile Hall included a Juvenile Court wing until the current Juvenile Court was built in 1985.
In 1992, Juvenile Hall was remodeled. Air conditioning, a new 90-bed wing, three classrooms, and 30 additional beds to existing rooms were added. The Sally Port was added.
Gerard Williams served as Acting Chief Probation Officer from 1992-1993.
Alan Crogan was appointed Chief Probation Officer in 1993.
Facing overcrowding at Juvenile Hall and swelling juvenile caseloads, District 4 Supervisor Ron Roberts flew to Washington D.C. to meet with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJDDP) to ask for assistance. OJJDP approved San Diego County to participate in a pilot project to create an evidence-based juvenile justice system that included a continuum of care from prevention to intervention, diversion, treatment, and incarceration. The system, which became known as Breaking Cycles, relied on collaboration from community based organizations, law enforcement, schools, the court, and local government to succeed. The resulting system became a model for juvenile justice systems across the nation.
From the time the Breaking Cycles program was implemented until 1999, juvenile court felony filings dropped nearly 40 percent and between 1998 and 2001 the average daily attendance at Juvenile Hall dropped by 33 percent.
In 2001, a 30-bed maximum-security unit opened in Juvenile Hall. The single rooms all contained toilets. After the expansion, the court mandated capacity was 537 in 12 living units.
In December 2001, construction began on a new juvenile detention facility in East Otay Mesa.
On July 10, 2003, a new wing of the Girls’ Rehabilitation Facility was dedicated. It added 20 new beds, a new bathroom, and new dayroom at a cost of $1 million. The expansion increased the capacity to 50.
Dave Cranford served as Acting Chief Probation Officer from August through December 2003.
Vincent J. Iaria was appointed Chief Probation Officer in December 2003.
On June 4, 2004, Chief Probation Officer Vincent J. Iaria delivered the keynote address at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility. Board of Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob also addressed the more than 100 attendees. A tour followed.
On June 25, 2004, 100 detainees transferred into the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (EMJDF) from the newly renamed Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (still called “Juvenile Hall” by old timers). The facility cost $55 million to build, including the access road and landscaping. The 185,825 square foot facility sits on 25.7 acres. It has a maximum capacity of 380 detainees. All rooms have toilets, sinks, and drinking fountains.
Mack Jenkins was appointed Chief Probation Officer in December 2007 and served until March 2016.
Adolfo Gonzales was appointed Chief Probation Officer in March 2016 and served until January 2021.