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Officials Back Added Beds at Juvenile Hall

Several local leaders spoke before the Ventura City Council this week in support of a county plan to relieve overcrowding at Juvenile Hall by expanding bed space.

The $800,000 plan would provide up to 31 more beds at Juvenile Hall at 380 N. Hillmont Ave. in Ventura during the 1998-99 fiscal year. The plan would add 20 beds and free up an additional eight to 11 beds by moving wards 18 years and older to the jailhouse at the county Sheriff’s Department.

It will also increase by 16 the number of beds at the county’s juvenile work-furlough program at 381 Hospital Road in Ventura.

The council also voted Monday night to urge board members to do even more to solve the overcrowding problem.

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In 1997, more than 1,300 youths were turned away from Juvenile Hall because of overcrowding, Mayor James Friedman said.

“For whatever reason, Ventura County has failed to keep pace with demand and our local communities are paying for it in law enforcement costs and acts of violence,” Friedman said.

Police Chief Richard Thomas, Ventura Unified School District Supt. Joseph Spirito and board President John Walker also addressed the council on the issue.

“Before there was a slap on the wrist and they were back on the streets,” Spirito said. “With more bed space, I think that will change.”

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