Grand Jury Calls Los Prietos ‘Effective But Underutilized’

Report Finds Boys’ Camp Operating Under Capacity for Years

Los Prietos Boys' Camp
Paul Wellman

With a recidivism rate of around 30 percent compared to the nearly 70-percent national rate, Los Prietos Boys’ Camp (LPBC) correctional facility is doing something right, finds Santa Barbara County’s Grand Jury in its latest report. The problems are that the program is only available to young men in South County and that is has operated at less than half its capacity for several years.

LPBC offers boys ages 13-18 a chance to stay out of Juvenile Hall. Stays usually range from 120-180 days. “When youth graduate from Los Prietos Boys Camp, the positive effects are not only felt by the juvenile but also his family,” the report states. “These benefits cannot always be quantified, as they may involve improved self-esteem, self-discipline, [and] a resolve to move on to college.”

In a recommendation to the County Board of Supervisors, the Grand Jury said the program should not only be expanded to North County youth, but also to female inmates. At any given time over the past few years, an average of 37 men were held at LPBC. Considering the camp’s capacity of 96 youth, the facility is being underutilized.

Every inmate being held at LPBC instead of Juvenile Hall saves the county $32,000 per year, according to the report. The camp has two dormitories, but only one is currently being used. The second, able to house up to 44 people, could easily be converted into a women’s dorm, said the Grand Jury.

Although the report admits there currently aren’t enough female offenders to warrant a separate program, the Grand Jury suggests a mutually beneficial arrangement could be worked out with San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties. The Board of Supervisors has 90 days to respond to the request.

Read the report here.


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