Public Safety

Behind-the-Scenes Tours of Juvenile Hall Provides Valuable Lessons

More than 2,500 people lined up in the rain Saturday to get a glimpse of what life is like inside Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility.

The San Diego County Probation Department offered children and parents free tours in English and Spanish. The annual open house connects Probation with the community and provides a look into the consequences of delinquency. Community groups also participated in the event to share resources with local families.

Tours started in a juvenile courtroom and proceeded into the living quarters of the juvenile hall where the youth sleep, eat, go to school, participate in activities and learn strategies to improve their lives.  Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility houses young people ages 10 to 19 who are held by court order for a range of offenses from vandalism and theft to serious violent acts. 

VIDEO:  Previous Year’s Juvenile Hall Tour

We hope kids get to see the potential consequences for bad decisions, bad decisions that may also be illegal decisions. We want this to be part of the process where kids really start trying to evaluate before they make choices. We want to strengthen the importance of strong family bonds. We talk to the parents and the kids. This is not just about the kids. This is about family.

-Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins.


We wanted the kids to see Juvenile Hall and have it serve as a deterrent.

-Jose Perez, a teen counselor at Faith Tabernacle Church

It was kinda scary knowing that if you don’t listen to your parents there will be big consequences.
-Isabella Franco, 13

Today I came back to get an outside perspective of this place I’ve been so many times before. 
-Dahir Farah, who went through the system as a teen and now wants to work with at-risk youth

If you really want more liberty, I suggest you listen to your parents.
-a probation officer

Michelle Mowad is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact