By Joe Orlando, CDCR Public Information Officer
Office of Public and Employee Communications
When a juvenile offender is committed to a Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facility, they first must go through McCloud Intake at N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (NACYCF).
A group of professional caseworkers, psychologists, parole agents, mental health experts and youth correctional counselors have 45 days to assess and assign the youth.
“We’re engaging them from day one,” said Cushiyah Yehuda, NAYCF Supervising Youth Correctional Counselor. “They’re starting the process as soon as they get here. Right off the bus, they’re seeing a gang coordinator, a nurse, and all the rest of us will follow.”
There are several factors that weigh into evaluating a youth offender to figure out where they should be sent and what treatment programs they should be in.
Lorraine Custino is one of the three casework specialists currently working McCloud Intake.
“When I meet with them, I talk about previous correctional experience, then I ask them how they think about things, how they make decisions, how they deal with stress, their family involvement in their lives. We begin our assessment from there,” Custino said.
The framework for DJJ’s programs is the Integrated Behavior Treatment Model (IBTM), designed to reduce institutional violence and future criminal behavior by teaching anti-criminal attitudes and providing personal skills for youth to better manage their environment. Every DJJ employee is taught the IBTM and applies it all the time at all four facilities.
Yehuda said it’s a real challenge every day because of the constant flow of recent arrivals. They can have 38 in the unit at any given time.
“The biggest fear the youth offenders have is fear of the unknown,” Yehuda explained. She said staff try to dispel rumors.
“It’s an easier transition for them if they know someone here,” Yehuda said. “If they don’t, we need to really make sure they are mingling, meeting people, talking to the people who will see them on the path to recovery.”
Yehuda said the biggest challenge for staff at McCloud during the 45-day process is making sure everyone is observant and documenting everything.
Near the end of their stay, the youth offender will have their Initial Case Review (ICR). In this meeting, education, mental health and at least one caseworker will be present.
At the start of each ICR, the offender is asked if they wear glasses, if they can hear and see the information that’s being presented, or if they are on medication that may affect their judgement.
For example, one youth offender is in for assault with a firearm. He’s told by the staff that his earliest release date is Oct. 22, 2018. He owes $1,718 in victim restitution and $2,100 in court restitution.
He learns that he has 79 high school credits and that his high school graduation plan has been laid out.
Caseworker Taneka Jackson told him his overall risk assessment is moderate and that’s determined by family support, social support, his attitude and his level of violence. Because of his crime, when he is sent to another DJJ facility, he will have to enter an anger management treatment program. Jackson told him his overall score can come down if he programs well and follows his prescribed treatment plan.
Yehuda said it is busy at McCloud. Five or six youth offenders could be sent out on the same day, but there could also be five or six new offenders arriving.
Yehuda said, “Every day is different. But we are consistent in the process, and we are fair.”