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State Preparing Norwalk’s CYA Facility for Inmates

california youth authority

 

BY BRIAN HEWS • August 16, 2020

Hews Media Group-Cerritos News has exclusively learned that the state of California has notified the city of Norwalk that they are “preparing the [Southern Youth Correctional Center] facility” in case it is needed to house inmates.

Built in 1954, the correctional center, also known as the California Youth Authority, was closed in 2011 and is located on Bloomfield Avenue just north of Foster Rd.

In an email, Norwalk City Manager Jesus Gomez told HMG-CN, “The state has informed the city that they will be utilizing the CYA as a satellite location for the mental hospital to house COVID-negative mental forensic inmates.”

The California Department of State Hospitals defines forensic inmates as, “individuals who have been charged with or convicted of criminal behavior related to their mental illness. Some are referred by the criminal courts under California law for treatment that will help them to understand the criminal charges they are facing and to assist in their own defense. Others are admitted because they have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.”

“The city is in communication with officials over at the state mental hospital, and they have indicated that there is no set date yet for the use of the facility, as they are simply preparing in case it is needed, ” wrote Gomez.

This is the second time Norwalk has been subjected to a higher authority use of emergency pandemic powers to effect change in the city.

In late April, HMG-CN was first to report that Los Angeles County, under their Project Room Key program, wanted to house homeless who are vulnerable to COVID at the Hotel Saddleback located at 12500 Firestone Blvd in Norwalk.

The Norwalk City Council resisted the county’s efforts to secure temporary emergency housing by enacting legislation, but the county sued stating the legislation is “directly contrary to, and in violation of, [Gov. Gavin Newsom’s] declaration of an emergency and his issuance of executive orders.”

The county prevailed and was able to secure a temporary restraining order against Norwalk and began placing homeless in the hotel in May.

Gomez continued, “The city of Norwalk recognizes the need for the use of these facilities during a pandemic, and the importance of mitigating the spread of COVID. However, the City Council’s position is reflected in the lawsuit filed with the county regarding Project Room Key, we want to have protocols in place that will allow the City Council to have advance notice to ensure that certain security measures are in place and that the residents of Norwalk are both informed and protected.”

Gomez finished, “Lastly, the Norwalk City Council has been informed that the state is planning a virtual town hall meetings so that all residents can be updated and satisfied that the state mental hospital is following their own written protocol to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.”

HMG will update when additional information becomes available.

 

 

 

 

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