Pubdate: Wed,  3 Sep 2003
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2003 San Jose Mercury News
Author: David L. Breithaupt, M.D.


The task force report on Santa Clara County's juvenile hall, local
authorities' statements and Mercury News coverage all fail to address one
area worthy of improvement in a ``rehabilitated'' juvenile hall: a serious
effort to diagnose and treat conditions that have put a lot of the youth in
custody in the first place.

The biggest category is drug use, abuse and addiction, and growing up in
chaotic, addicted and violent families. A close second is undiagnosed and
untreated mental illness with or without coincident chemical dependency.

A juvenile hall may have to be a prison for a few, but for the majority of
its clients it should be a safe and secure(d) facility for the comprehensive
evaluation and treatment of complex but remediable syndromes.

It's the right thing to do, the ethical course. The law as outlined by
Proposition 36 assures this for adults.

David L. Breithaupt, M.D.
San Jose
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