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September 27, 2011 > Emergency assessment team to address detentions of minors

Emergency assessment team to address detentions of minors

Submitted By Steve Blomquist

The Santa Clara County Children, Seniors and Families Committee unanimously approved the request, on August 17, 2011, of Supervisor Dave Cortese, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, to create an Emergency Assessment Team for detentions of juveniles ages 15 and under. This team would convene for every youth under 15 who commits a violent or gang-related crime or has any other complications which would make placement extraordinarily challenging. The team would quickly decide next steps to eliminate the need for the youth to stay overnight at Juvenile Hall.

"We need to expand the options available to place these vulnerable youth in a rehabilitative and supportive environment tailored to their specific needs," said Cortese, Chair of the Children, Seniors and Families Committee. "The one-size-fits-all mentality is inappropriate for children."

The Emergency Assessment Team concept is predicated on the notion that Juvenile Hall is by its nature, primarily a detention setting. In September, the Committee will hear a report on possible formats for the team and alternatives for expanding the community care options. In October, the full Board of Supervisors will conduct a juvenile justice resource mapping workshop to discuss the Emergency Assessment Team and further options to handle this young population.

A process is already in place for children, aged 12 and under. Santa Clara County is believed to be the first county in the nation to have adopted a formal public policy, in May 2010, that youth offenders ages 12 and under should no longer be placed at Juvenile Hall. The Emergency Assessment Team would provide presiding judges with a similar process and options to assign children, aged 15 and under, to placements other than Juvenile Hall.

For more information, contact Steven Blomquist at (408) 299-5030.

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