Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2003-04 Budget Bill

Department of the Youth Authority (5460)

The Department of the Youth Authority operates 11 institutions throughout the state. In January 2003, the system housed around 5,400 wards, which was a drop of over 800 (or 15 percent) from nearly 6,200 wards in January 2002.

The budget includes $2.75 million from the General Fund for minor capital outlay projects and capital planning. Although the budget contains no major capital outlay proposals, the department is faced with three important facility issues. These are:

Institution Closure Report

In light of the Youth Authority's declining population, the Legislature adopted and the Governor signed 2002-03 trailer act language directing the Youth Authority to submit a written plan to the Legislature by November 1, 2002 to (1) close at least three institutions by June 30, 2007 and (2) close at least one of these facilities no later than June 30, 2004. This report was submitted in January of this year and we have not had time to review its capital outlay implications. We will review this report and comment as appropriate at budget hearings.

Facility Condition Survey

We recommend the Legislature adopt supplemental report language directing the department to prepare and submit a facility condition survey by November 1, 2003.

As we note in the "Crosscutting Issues" section of this chapter, much of the state's infrastructure "must be renovated, adapted, and improved to meet current and future needs." In the case of the Youth Authority, its institutions range in age from 12 to 58 years old, with an average age of over 42 years.

We believe the department's aging infrastructure provides a particular challenge that should be addressed in a comprehensive way. Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature adopt supplemental report language directing the department to survey the condition of its facilities, identify needed corrections and improvements, and prepare cost estimates and a plan for their implementation. Since the department has prepared a five-year infrastructure plan pursuant to Chapter 606, Statutes of 1999 (AB 1473, Hertzberg), much of this information should already be available. We recommend the department be directed to submit this information in a report to the Legislature by November 1, 2003. This information would also be of critical importance in evaluating the department's findings and recommendations regarding the closure of institutions (discussed above).

Mental Health Treatment Facilities

We recommend the Legislature adopt supplemental report language directing the department to provide by November 1, 2003 a mental health treatment program plan which includes identification of and cost estimates for any facility impacts.

While the 2003-04 Governor's Budget does not include specific capital outlay proposals for mental health treatment program space, the Youth Authority's operations budget includes a request for funding to establish a 20-bed inpatient mental health program at the Southern Youth Correctional Reception Center and Clinic. In order to determine the treatment needs of the ward population, the Legislature commissioned an independent assessment of the Youth Authority's mental health program. Stanford University completed this study and released its findings in a report titled The Assessment of the Mental Health System of the California Youth Authority, dated December 2001. According to the Stanford study, the following characteristics apply to the state's ward population:

Given the prevalence of mental health treatment needs among the ward population, we believe the department should develop a comprehensive plan to address this population. This plan should include (1) any new facility needs these programs will create, (2) the necessary service delivery and treatment protocols, and (3) opportunities for reuse of existing facilities. The Youth Authority should adopt facility guidelines that are flexible enough to accommodate changes in programmatic use. This would standardize the availability of treatment services at the various institutions and promote greater consistency within the program. For example, this can be accomplished by identifying the types and quantities of facilities necessary to operate the programs. Furthermore, the facilities plan should maximize the use of existing facilities, as well as address any need for new construction.

We therefore recommend that the Legislature adopt supplemental report language directing the Youth Authority to prepare a plan as described above, by November 1, 2003. This information would give the Legislature a more comprehensive view of future facility development needs created by these programs.

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