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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Sting of Juvenile Detention

The Crime ReportWhen young people held in San Diego County’s juvenile hall are disciplined with pepper spray, guards at the Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility ask afterwards if they want a shower.

The best response, says former youth offender Ian Arellano, is “no.”

Water reactivates the sting—which then washes down your body, he explains. Instead of affecting just your arms or face, suddenly every pore burns.

“It hurts really bad,” says Arellano, who was in and out of juvenile facilities in Southern California at least 10 times between 2007 and 2010. “They say it lasts for an hour, but it lasts all day.”

The San Diego County Probation Department operates five detention facilities, with a total average daily population of 800 youths.

Arellano, now 22 and living in Southeast San Diego, says friends currently in juvenile hall tell him nothing has changed—despite assurances last year that the practice would be re-evaluated.

Records obtained by San Diego CityBeat through the California Public Records (CPRA) Act back him up.

They suggest that pepper spray—called “OC” (short for “Oleoresin Capsicum”)— is deployed daily, sometimes multiple times a day, in the county’s juvenile facilities.The records show a total of 414 incidents during 2012.

While that represents slightly more than a 10 percent decrease since the 2011, it’s not clear that county justice officials are willing to address the problem seriously. continue reading...

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