The San Diego County Probation Department is the body in San Diego County, California responsible for supervising convicted offenders in the community, either who are on probation, such as at the conclusion of their sentences, or while on community supervision orders.
The Department is organized into four service divisions: Administrative Services, Adult Field Services, Juvenile Field Services, and Institutional Services. Collectively the department’s 1,000 sworn officers and 400 support staff supervise 19,000 adults and 4,000 juveniles in the community; 900 juveniles in detention/ treatment; and work with an additional 1,000 at-risk juveniles.
San Diego County Probation firearm policy requires a 9 mm pistol, which they provide. In 1988, San Diego County Probation was the first county to be armed. Of the 58 counties in California, all but a few of the San Francisco bay area counties are armed.
Deputy Probation Officers are classified as Peace Officers. Officers have the power to arrest or take into custody and are required to undergo psychological testing.
In California all Deputy Probations Officers may carry off-duty concealed firearms, this was affirmed in both a California Attorney Generals Opinion and by court decision by the 4th Appellate District Court of California in 1993.
Family Violence and Sex Offenders (FVSO) Program: The Family Violence/Sex Offender Program is an intensive field supervision unit designed to supervise family violence (e.g. domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse or stalking) and sex offenders who are on formal probation. Probation officers evaluate risk and need and provide referrals to assist the defendant to make changes through cognitive behavioral interventions. Officers provide intensive supervision, which encompasses in-office meetings, field or home visits, telephone contacts, and liaison with law enforcement that sometimes includes surveillance. The officers work closely with the courts, polygraph providers, victim advocates, and community-based treatment agencies. Officers undertake continuous specialized training and support, educate, and protect victims and their families.
Mentally Ill Offender Program (MIO): This program targets severely mentally ill adult probationers who require prevention/intervention services to remain out of custody and in the community. The goals of this intensive supervision program are medication maintenance, treatment for substance abuse and the promotion of the highest functioning skills possible for this population.
Parents And Their Children (PATCh): PATCh is a specialized, intensive supervision caseload that focuses on defendants assigned to the Violent Offender Program (VOP) who have children from birth to age 10 living in the home. The probation officer works with the defendant and provides referrals to necessary community agencies such as employment, therapy, cognitive behavior programs, and anger management in order to influence change, thus minimizing the cycle of violence and protecting the children.
Violent Offender Program: The Violent Offender Program (VOP) is an intensive supervision unit. The defendants almost always have committed an offense involving violence (assault with deadly weapon, battery with serious bodily injury, etc). The Probation officers meet with the defendant twice a month, in the office and once at their home or business. Many have been ordered to undergo drug/alcohol testing, and are put on a random testing program. If the defendant continues to use drugs and/or alcohol, fails to get counseling, or otherwise violates his conditions of probation, they will be re-arrested by the Probation officer and returned to court for additional sentencing and/or other sanctions.
Women And Their Children (WATCh): WATCh is a collaborative, zero-tolerance intensive supervision program that works with pregnant women to bring drug and alcohol-free babies into the world. Probation officers supervise all pregnant juvenile and adult offenders with a history of drug/alcohol abuse. The case will remain in the WATCH program for at least three to six months following the child’s birth with follow-up by mid-level supervision officers.
Youthful Offender Program (YOP): The Youthful Offender Program is an intensive supervision program that targets high-risk youthful offenders 18-25 years old. The focus of this program is community safety and offender rehabilitation.
Juvenile Sex Offender Management (JSOM): This unit provides intensive monitoring for minors on probation in the community with a history of sexually abusive behavior.
Community Assessment Teams (CAT): is a prevention program serving 3200 families annually with youth between the ages of 8 through 17 who have chronic behavior problems that place them at risk of entering the juvenile justice or dependency system.
Drug Court: This 9-month program intensively supervises juvenile drug abusers who are non-violent but who have repeated failed drug-treatment programs.
Breaking Cycles (BC): Graduated Sanctions improves the justice system and community response to juvenile crime through a series of graduated sanctions.(verbal warring, loss of privileges, intensive counseling, increased supervision, house arrest, eventually leading to incarnation )
Youthful Offender Unit, (YOU): Usually violent offenders who have been diverted from State Juvenile Prison into this 18 month probation program, Probation officers will have smaller caseloads so they can maintain closer contact with the offenders, and the offenders will have to be working or in job training and be enrolled in other rehabilitation programs. This is the result of 2008 lawsuit that remanded, as part of a court-ordered overhaul of the Division of Juvenile Justice in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the state will be reducing by about one-third the number of young offenders in its custody by accepting only those who commit the most serious crimes.
Electronic Surveillance Program (ESP): This is a jail diversion program, monitoring offenders under house arrest.
Field Action Specialty Team (FAST): Probation officers provide intrusive activities for caseloads in crisis, usually as a result of probation violations, ongoing criminal conduct, or active police investigations targeting the offender. Officers conduct unannounced field visits, fourth waiver searches, and arrests of dangerous high-risk offenders.
Gang Suppression Unit (GSU): Officers collect criminal intelligence using monthly contacts with probationers in the field and in the office, random drug testing, conduct fourth waiver searches, submit reports of new offenses or probation violations, and recommend prosecution of probation violators. The unit also provides gang awareness presentations to schools, community based organizations and other law enforcement agencies.
Home Supervision (Juvenile Only): Through this program offenders may be placed back into their homes and frequently supervised by a probation officer instead of being incarcerated in Juvenile Hall or jail. There are strict restrictions on their movements and activities and parolees can be monitored by an electronic surveillance detection device.
Jurisdictions Unified for Drug and Gang Enforcement (JUDGE): This is a multi-jurisdictional task force of Probation Officers working in partnership with officers from San Diego Police, Chula Vista Police, National City Police, State Parole, San Diego County Sheriff, Escondido Police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Oceanside Police and the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement. This unit targets drug and gang involved probationers, parolees, and other criminals who have been convicted of "strike" crimes (California’s Three Strikes Law, targeting repeat felons who have committed a violent felony with possible life sentences). This task force is operated under a grant that is administered by the San Diego County District Attorney.
Warrant Unit: The unit conducts investigations using computer records, surveillance operations, collateral contacts, and law enforcement information sharing to apprehend probation absconders.
Multi jurisdictional Units: Probation Officers are assigned to multi-jurisdictional task forces such as the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force, Narcotics Task Force, FBI Task Force, North County Regional Gang Task Force, East County Gang Task Force and the Violent Crime Task Force.
The committee consisted of three Board of Supervisors and four citizens. They served without compensation and acted as an advisory board. The following made up the original committee: Hugh J. Baldwin, Rev. E. E. Crabtree, Dr. W. F. Gearhart, Mrs. H. A. Ballou, Mrs. Mabel E. O’Farrell, Mrs. A. E. Collins, and Dr. H. C. Oatman.
On November 6, 1907, the Board of Supervisors appointed a sub-committee to study the feasibility of a detention home for children. Jacob A. Reed was appointed the probation officer of San Diego County between November 7, 1907 and February 5, 1908.
The Board of Supervisors purchased a seven-bedroom farmhouse on in Mission Valley, southwest of the present day Interstate 8 and SR-163 interchange (east of Holiday Inn, west of Seven Seas Motor Lodge) to house juvenile offenders between November 1907 and July 1909.
On August 11, 1909, the county school superintendent was ordered to establish a school at the Detention Home. On November 4, 1909, the Probation Committee nominated Mr. And Mrs. F. Phelps for the position of superintendent and matron of the Detention Home. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved.
The Detention Home served delinquents and dependents, infants and teenagers. In April 1911, the Probation Committee nominated and the Superior Court appointed J.A. Reed’s wife, Lillie A. Reed, and Mrs. May Beck, as assistant probation officers. The salary for the probation officer was $125 per month. The first assistant was paid $120 per month and second assistant $100 per month.
J. A. Reed and Lillie A. Reed sued the county’s Auditor, Chauncey R. Hammond, after he refused to pay the monthly salaries to the two assistant probation officers on the grounds it was illegal for females to work for county government. The Superior Court and Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Reed’s. Lillie was paid her salary plus interest.
W.E. Blair was appointed chief probation officer in 1912.
W.J. Mosher was appointed chief probation officer in 1917.
Sarah Anthony became the superintendent of the San Diego Detention Home, which housed 17 children on her first day of February 1, 1919. Children housed at the facility raised chickens, rabbits, vegetables, and bees.
Herbert Sallee was appointed chief probation officer in 1920. Two units were added to the Detention Home in 1923 and a new main unit in 1927. Upon completion, the San Diego Detention Home had 20 rooms and an eight-bed dormitory for older boys; 22 rooms for girls; 13 rooms for small boys; three schoolrooms; a manual training shop; 17 bedrooms for staff; and additional offices and rooms for operations.
W.F. Worchester was appointed chief probation officer in 1926.
On December 15, 1936 the “Juvenile Mountain Forestry Camp” for older boys was established at the base of Mount Woodson in Ramona. It had a maximum capacity of 38. In 1942 a camp for younger boys was established nearby with a maximum capacity of 22. The boys stayed for between 20 and 30 weeks working with a state forester to clear fire breaks during the day and attending school at night. Some of the boys attended Ramona High School. Boys also received shop training. The San Diego Detention Home was renamed the “Anthony Home” on January 29, 1939 to honor Sarah Anthony. At the time of the name change, 75 children were staying there for a few days to six months. Charges included being a runaway, sex delinquency, theft, drunkenness, and use of narcotics. The Detention Home housed 14,254 boys and girls during Sarah Anthony’s tenure as superintendent from February 1, 1919 to June 15, 1941.
By January 1941, there was 15 sworn probation staff consisting of one chief probation officer, two supervising assistant probation officers, and 12 assistant probation officers. Nearly every one had a four year degree and several had completed graduate courses. Pete Geiser was appointed chief probation officer in 1941.
The Anthony Home’s front door had to remain unlocked at all times beginning in 1942 because the Fire Marshal condemned the building. Boys held in the maximum-security unit lived in small six-man tanks with bars, concrete walls, no natural light, and a toilet in the middle of the room. Boys were not segregated according to age or charge.
In 1942, there were two assistant probation officers assigned to the adult division. They completed 334 pre-sentence reports, which included doing an entire social study on each case. They were responsible for 429 adult probationers by July 1943. Most of their time was spent preparing pre-sentence reports for the courts and collecting restitution from the probationers. Little time was left for supervision.
In 1943, the Probation Committee commissioned the National Probation Association to do a thorough study of the department. The 75-page report entitled, “The Juvenile Delinquency Problem,” focused on the overcrowding at the Anthony Home and the lack of officers to properly supervise the increasing number of delinquents. World War II increased the county’s population from fewer than 289,000 people in 1940 to 485,000 in 1943. Between 1940 and 1943 boys’ arrests increased 51% and girls’ arrests increased 466%. The most common charges for boys were theft and disorderly conduct. The most common charges for girls were runaway and vagrancy. It was noted that many of the runaway girls were arrested for prostitution.
In June 1943 the average length of stay in the Anthony Home for boys was 15.5 days and for girls it was 32 days. (The boys had a camp to go to). On average it took 11 days before the first court hearing for each child. In July 1943, the average daily attendance of the Anthony Home was 78. Sixteen and seventeen year old boys were held in adult jail. On September 15, 1943 there were 737 children under the department’s jurisdiction. Caseloads varied from 50 to 130, with 92 being the average.
Arther Flakoll was appointed chief probation officer in 1944.
After a series of grand jury criticisms, a ballot measure for a $500,000 bond to build a new 100-bed, 5-unit juvenile detention facility on a 10 acre site in Mission Valley was put before the voters in 1948. The Anthony Home would be used for Juvenile Court and Probation offices. It was rejected.
Charles Rogers was appointed chief probation officer in 1948.
In 1950, an $875,000 bond to build a new detention home that looked like a dormitory or school but guarded against escapes was put on the November ballot. It passed. On November 28, 1951, The Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to build a new Juvenile Hall on a recently acquired 20 acre site in Kearny Mesa purchased for $33,275.
In 1954, the average daily attendance of the Anthony Home was 115. Juvenile Hall was completed at a price of $1,250,000 in 1954. Dedication ceremonies occurred on Monday, June 21, 1954. A tour followed. Ninety-one wards were transferred from the Anthony Home to Juvenile Hall on June 30, 1954. After the move, the Anthony Home’s maximum-security unit served as an adult jail and the school served mentally handicapped children. The original Kearny Mesa Juvenile Hall included five units with a designed capacity of 111, but could accommodate up to 160 with double bunking. Three units were designed for 68 boys and two units were designed to house 43 girls. The Evening Tribune reported experts called it the finest juvenile detention facility in the United States at the time. Juvenile Hall incorporated all the latest advancements in juvenile detention facilities including: concrete construction, a visual control point, a centralized kitchen, heated carts eliminating the need for a large dining room, individual units, and separate classrooms and play yards from the living unit. In July 1962, the Probation Department proposed building a new facility for girls to be called the “Girls Rehabilitation Facility” (GRF). After months of struggling to hire a GRF superintendent because of a low salary offering, Marvin D. Smith was hired on April 27, 1963. He was a sociologist and former assistant superintendent of Juvenile Hall. He had 10 children. The GRF program officially began in July 1963 when 18 girls moved into an unused wing in Juvenile Hall. The program emphasized freedom of choice, training in impulse control, acceptance of responsibility, and practice in cooperative living.
In 1965, parents were charged $13 per day to house kids in Juvenile Hall or GRF. They were charged $10 per day for Rancho del Campo.
On December 3, 1966, Las Colinas in Santee was dedicated for use by the Girls Rehabilitation Facility. It housed a maximum of 60 girls ages 14-17, at a construction price of $898,602. Girls served sentences of four to five months.
The Juvenile Probation Center opened in 1967 across from Juvenile Hall.
Due to concerns Rancho del Campo would be condemned, the County decided to build a new boys rehabilitation camp at Camp Elliott in Santee in 1967, but the city denied a building permit. The County also looked at sites in Imperial Beach and Otay Mesa, but never was able to secure construction approval despite having money for the project.
Eddie Weigle served as acting chief probation officer from July through November 1967. Kenneth Fare was appointed chief probation officer in November 1967.
Volunteers In Probation (VIP), became incorporated in the summer of 1970. They began recruiting volunteers to work with up to 15,000 probationers. Reuben Garcia was the first VIP ever hired. He was a 47 year old construction worker. The Reverend David Ellisor became the first regularly employed chaplain/religious services coordinator for VIP.
On June 8, 1971, voters rejected a $12 million bond that would have covered the construction of a new boy’s rehabilitation facility, a new juvenile hall in the South Bay, and additions to Juvenile Hall and Juvenile Court. County officials believed Rancho del Campo was beyond economic repair.
Robert MacDonald served as acting chief probation officer from 1976-1977.
In August 1976, the Board of Supervisors transferred Las Colinas to the Sheriff’s Department to be used by incarcerated women, and the girls were sent back to a wing in Juvenile Hall.
Michael Garvey was appointed chief probation officer in 1977. Cecil Steppe was appointed chief probation officer in 1980.
A new Girls Rehabilitation Facility was dedicated on February 24, 1981. The construction cost $703,500 to refurbish a wing of Juvenile Hall in less than four months. The area that now serves as Intake, Booking, and Release was originally the Juvenile Court wing. The current Juvenile Court was built in 1985.
In 1992, Juvenile Hall was remodeled. Air conditioning, a new 90-bed wing, three classrooms, and 30 additional beds to existing rooms were added. The Sally Port was added.
Gerard Williams served as acting chief probation officer from 1992-1993. Alan Crogan was appointed chief probation officer in 1993.
Facing overcrowding at Juvenile Hall and swelling juvenile caseloads, District 4 Supervisor Ron Roberts flew to Washington D.C. to meet with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJDDP) to ask for assistance. OJJDP approved San Diego County to participate in a pilot project to create an evidence-based juvenile justice system that included a continuum of care from prevention to intervention, diversion, treatment, and incarceration. The system, which became known as Breaking Cycles, relied on collaboration from community based organizations, law enforcement, schools, the court, and local government to succeed. The resulting system became a model for juvenile justice systems across the nation. From the time the Breaking Cycles program was implemented until 1999, juvenile court felony filings dropped nearly 40 percent and between 1998 and 2001 the average daily attendance at Juvenile Hall dropped by 33 percent.
In 2001, a 30-bed maximum-security unit opened in Juvenile Hall. The single rooms all contained toilets. After the expansion, the court mandated capacity was 537 in 12 living units.
In December 2001, construction began on a new juvenile detention facility in East Otay Mesa. On July 10, 2003 a new wing of the Girls’ Rehabilitation Facility was dedicated. It added 20 new beds, a new bathroom, and new dayroom at a cost of $1 million. The expansion increased the capacity to 50.
Dave Cranford served as acting chief probation officer from August through December 2003. Vincent J. Iaria was appointed chief probation officer in December 2003.
On June 4, 2004, Chief Probation Officer Vincent J. Iaria delivered the keynote address at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility. Board of Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob also address the more than 100 attendees. A tour followed. On June 25, 2004, 100 detainees transferred into the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (EMJDF) from the newly renamed Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility (still called “Juvenile Hall” by old timers). The facility cost $55 million to build, including the access road and landscaping. The facility sits on . It has a maximum capacity of 380 detainees. All rooms have toilets, sinks, and drinking fountains.
Mack Jenkins was appointed chief probation officer in December 2007.