There’s just one day each year when ending up in juvenile hall is a good idea. This year, it’s Saturday May 18, when the San Diego County Probation Department welcomes the public for its annual Juvenile Hall Open House.
The free behind-the-scenes tours will go from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, 2801 Meadow Lark Drive.
“Open House is when we invite the community to learn about the juvenile justice system firsthand,” said Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins. “Everyone who comes finds it interesting, and it’s always particularly eye-opening to young people. Throughout the tour, our probation officers emphasize the importance of positive decisions and the consequences of illegal behavior.”
Visitors will follow the path of youth admitted into juvenile hall, beginning in a juvenile courtroom. Guests will see the simple uniforms, showers and locked rooms that become part of daily life in custody. At times, probation officers will tell young visitors to walk single file with their arms crossed, in the controlled style of detainees.
The public will not see youth residing at the facility.
After the tour, young people generally say they’re resolved to never return as a resident. Kearny Mesa’s juvenile hall houses pre-teenagers, teens and young adults who have committed a range of offenses. Some have vandalized or stolen property. Others have been arrested for drug or alcohol-related violations. Some have inexorably changed their lives and the lives of victims through serious, violent acts.
|JUVENILE HALL OPEN HOUSE|
While in custody, youth take part in a range of structured educational and social programming to address their needs and the roots of their delinquent behaviors.
The Open House will include booths hosted by Probation groups and community partners with resources to steer young people towards positive pastimes and behaviors.
There is no age restriction, and parents can use their judgment about bringing very young children. (The video at the top of this story gives you a good idea what to expect.)
Minors not accompanied by parents must be on good behavior. No backpacks, purses or cameras are allowed. For more information, the public can call 858-694-4500.