By CBSLA Staff

LA VERNE (CBSLA) – The state is considering moving some serious juvenile crime offenders into a detention camp on Stephens Ranch Road, and residents in the La Verne neighborhood are concerned.

Dec. 16, 2021 (credit: CBS)

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“It makes me feel pretty insecure,” said La Verne resident Pam Berry.

Berry is one of several residents who showed up to the two juvenile detention facilities in La Verne to speak out against a proposal to house violent youth offenders in the foothills less than a mile from thousands of families.

Right now, Camps Paige and Afflerbaugh house low-level juvenile offenders.

However, under Senate Bill 823, juveniles convicted of murder, arson and other heinous crimes could be relocated from state prisons to county facilities, as part of the so-called “Youth Justice Reimagined” program to rehabilitate troubled youth in a less prison-like environment.

Mayor Tim Hepburn said he was shocked to learn about the proposal from concerned citizens a month ago, and said La Verne is not the place to house violent young individuals.

“I think the most important thing is that if they change this to a level four facility and modify it, all of our residents are at risk, but not only that, the police and sheriff department can’t handle this type of situation if they have youth escape from these facilities.

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Residents voiced their concerns at a public hearing last week, after learning about the proposal for the first time.

Hundreds of homes surround the main road leading to the juvenile center and many who live nearby are worried about their safety.

“Take a look at how close we are to the foothills, how close this is to homes and how far it is from any of the stakeholders who want to help these inmates,” Berry said.

A spokesperson for the county’s probation department said a committee of probationary officials, county leaders and community members are considering at least five locations in the county and that ultimately the Board of Supervisors will decide where the juveniles will be housed.

“It’s really important to note this is not a LA County issues. It’s not a La Verne issue. It’s a statewide issue. Each of the counties is grappling with deciding and determining how to house these young people,” Adam Bettino, an LA County Probation Chief Deputy, said.

People who live near the facilities understand that youth offenders need to be housed somewhere, but said it should be in a more remote location.

“I care about everyone in this facility, but I also care about safety, and our neighbors should feel safe and our community should feel safe,” resident Rick Bowen said.

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The committee will have another virtual town hall on December 21, after which they’ll forward a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, who have the final say on where the juvenile offenders will be housed.