On Tuesday, days before the Assembly Appropriations Committee makes a decision on a bill designed to provide additional oversight to boot camps for at-risk youth, the measure's co-sponsors appeared on the steps of Pasadena City Hall to urge that the bill pass.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) said the bill would give the Department of Social Services better oversight of the camps, including camps that have generated controvesy in Pasadena.
The bill was drafted after the release of videos of a boot camp that showed kids being forced to drink water to excess and carry car tires around their necks while operators screamed at them.
SB 1089 would require for-profit youth boot camps to be certified by an independent accrediting organization approved by the DSS. It would not apply to programs under the Department of Juvenile Justice, county youth incarceration facilities or charter schools.
After the videos were broadcast, Liu said, she realized that some of these boot camps were operating without adequate oversight from the state, Liu said.
“This puts vulnerable kids and their families at risk,” Liu said. “If signed SB 1089 will protect youth in boot camps across California.”
Portantino said the bill was the first step in setting up a framework for regulating boot camps.
“Right now camps are not regulated altogether,” Portantino said.
One Pasadena boot camp operator, Kelvin McFarland, faces a criminal charge for his interaction with a Pasadena youth in 2011. Prosecutors considered evidence of McFarland's alleged involvement with the videotaped boot camp incident, but declined to bring charges.
Separately, McFarland was charged with sexual assault involving two female teens in unrelated incidents. McFarland has pleaded not guilty.
On Tuesday, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez urged local parents to be wary of sending their children to disciplinary boot camps.
-- Adolfo Flores, Times Community News