County looking to contract with neighboring county juvenile detention facilities

Weathered stone slab with the words Juvenile Court Entrance carved into it.
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Yolo County youth offenders who would normally be housed at the Juvenile Detention Facility in Woodland may soon be sent to facilities in Sacramento or Solano counties.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously supported a proposal by Chief Probation Officer Dan Fruchtenict for contracting with another county to house and provide services to those local youths.

The reason: the county is operating a 90-bed juvenile hall that has rarely had more than a handful of children in the last year and has seen declining numbers for the last five years.
Moving them to a larger facility in another county would allow them to receive a broader array of services while saving the county millions of dollars that could be invested in upstream services for local at-risk youth.

“These counties are able to offer more than we currently can (given our small numbers),” Fruchtenicht told county supervisors.

On Tuesday, the facility was housing five youths, all facing serious charges, Fruchtenicht said, and that number is expected to drop to just a couple this fall.

The average daily population at Yolo County’s juvenile hall has steadily declined over the years, dropping from an average daily population over 20 in 2016 to an average of five in 2021.

The average age of the 44 youths booked into the Juvenile Detention Facility in 2020-21 was 14.9 years of age. More than half — 52 percent — spent less than five days in custody and the average length of stay was less than 13 days for youths booked and released in 2020-21.

Meanwhile, operating the facility comes at a cost of $4.56 million annually, including $1.8 million from the county’s General Fund.

Fruchtenicht estimated the cost of contracting with another county to house those youths at between $1.4 million and $1.8 million, plus the cost of an expanded transportation program, estimated at about $900,000.

The annual savings of $1.8 million could then be invested in an array of programs, including those proposed during community listening sessions over the summer. They include:

  • Short-term residential treatment program.
  • Wraparound teen resource and respite center.
  • Transitional-age youth housing.
  • Youth day treatment program.
  • Residential detox and crisis center.
  • Homeless shelter.

The facility in Woodland has three pods, one of which has been used to house adult offenders during construction work at the main jail. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a second pod has been dedicated to quarantining youths as needed, while the third has housed the dwindling number of juvenile offenders.

The proposal before the board on Tuesday was similar to one brought forward by Fruchtenicht two years ago. But there was disagreement among supervisors then and the proposal did not move forward.

Supervisors Don Saylor of Davis and Gary Sandy of Woodland supported the plan, but Supervisors Jim Provenza of Davis and Duane Chamberlain of the rural Fifth District objected to having Yolo County juveniles being housed in detention facilities in other counties.

Supervisor Oscar Villegas of West Sacramento was recused from the matter because of his work with the Board of Corrections.

But things have changed on the board since then. Angel Barajas replaced Chamberlain on the board and Villegas recently retired, eliminating any conflict of interest.

All five supervisors on Tuesday voiced their support for the plan and authorized Fruchtenicht to engage with other counties and negotiate a contract.

“I firmly believe we should explore contracting out these services to Sacramento County or Solano County,” Barajas said.

“I concur,” said Saylor, who added that the move is not about saving some money and spending it elsewhere, but “about using our resources most effectively…. in serving the youths of our county.”

Provenza, who was hesitant to make such a move two years ago, said he was in agreement as well.

“It’s time,” he said.

Fruchtenicht will return to the board with options for repurposing the facility as well as with any contract negotiated with another county.

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