California Youth Facility Closure Could Save Millions

IONE, Calif. — Plans to shut down the Preston Youth Correctional Facility — something that could save the state tens of millions of dollars — is running into opposition. The fight over closing one of California’s few remaining juvenile justice facilities is showing the difficulty that state leaders face as they attempt to close a $25.4 billion budget gap.

California Assemblywoman Alyson Huber (D-Lodi) has responded with AB 8, which would call for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to keep all of five of the state’s remaining youth correctional facilities open for at least six months and prohibit any staff reductions during that time. The bill needs a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to pass.

Preston is one of the state’s oldest correctional institutions, housing just 224 youths and is in deteriorated condition, according to reports. The facility employs approximately 450 people in a county with just 38,000 residents and a 12.4 percent unemployment rate.

Officials estimate that closing the facility would save the state $30 million this fiscal year alone.