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Following the recent release of scathing reports on conditions inthe California Department of the Youth Authority, Public Defender Jeff Adachi wants San Francisco authorities to refrain from sending young people to CYA facilities. Adachi wants the Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution, expected to be introduced today, that would urge the public defender, the district attorney, the juvenile probation department and the superior court to abstain from sending anyone to the CYA unless required by law. While some of those departments share Adachi’s concerns, they aren’t all lining up yet to support the proposed moratorium. The head of the city’s juvenile probation department, Chief Probation Officer Gwendolyn Tucker, says there simply are not alternatives to handle violent offenders. “If not CYA, then where?” Tucker asked. The CYA’s mission includes providing training, education and treatment to offenders from 12 to 25 years old. At a press conference Monday, Adachi passionately charged that the CYA provides poor and abusive treatment when it comes to mental health, education, health care and discipline. He cited excerpts from reports that were commissioned by the Prison Law Office, the CYA and the California attorney general’s office. The Prison Law Office last year filed a suit against the CYA’s former director alleging “inhumane conditions.” “These reports are substantially correct,” said CYA spokeswoman Sarah Ludeman in an interview Monday. “Each of the issues is being looked at.” Until the CYA’s programs are fixed, Adachi said, “We can no longer trust the CYA to care for our children.” The public defender, DA and juvenile probation department offer sentencing recommendations to the courts. Adachi says that some of the 200 San Franciscans that he estimates are currently wards of the CYA might be better off at the city-run Log Cabin Ranch School in La Honda on the Peninsula. The ranch is a residential treatment and rehab facility for male juveniles. San Francisco already commits young people to CYA sparingly, Tucker said, adding that the city sent 14 young people to CYA last year and 18 the year before. The ranch may be appropriate “for some of the kids,” Tucker said, “but not for the most seriously mentally ill, not those who are convicted of violent shooting, rape and robbery.” Any juvenile convicted of a felony can be sent to the CYA, Adachi said. And in certain cases, the law requires a CYA sentence, such as when a defendant tried as a minor receives a sentence for murder, Adachi added. Three of the city’s supervisors have pledged their support for the resolution so far: Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly and Sophie Maxwell, Adachi said. Presiding Judge Donna Hitchens declined through a spokeswoman to comment on the resolution. Rather than a moratorium, Tucker said, the city and state need to find more appropriate resources for young people who commit violent crimes, particularly those who have mental health problems. District Attorney Kamala Harris is “outraged” by the conditions at the CYA, but needs to examine the resolution before commenting on whether she’s for it or not, said spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh. “She does agree that there needs to be some drastic change.”

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