Fresno County's Elkhorn Boot Camp to Close

April 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A successful boot camp for juvenile offenders is in its final hours this morning. Fresno county supervisors say they had no choice but to shut down the Elkhorn Correctional Facility at Highway 41 and Elkhorn Avenue.The boot camp opened 11-years ago as an experiment, and has reformed hundreds of teens through the years. But Monday, the program will officially come to an end because Fresno County Supervisors claim they just don't have the money to keep it going.

Fresno County's probation department said running the boot camp costs about $7-million dollars a year; money the county won't have next year because of severe state budget cuts. So to solve an $8.5-million dollar deficit, Chief Probation Officer Linda Penner said she no choice but to close the facility. "It's hard to say goodbye to a program that's meaningful. I don't think any of us want it. It's really just the climate of the country, the state and now the county that brings us here."

Penner said 60 juveniles will be transferred to the Juvenile Justice Campus on American Avenue. Around 70 others are being released into the community at day programs and will be monitored electronically.

County Supervisor Phil Larson said the county probably has no other choice but to end a program with successful track record. "I hate to even think about closing that boot camp but when you talk an 8 and a half million dollar cost when we do what we're doing right now, but we have a difficult decision ahead of us tomorrow."

More than a dozen employees from the probation department have been laid off, others are being transferred within the department. Some of those being released will attend day-programs offered by the Fresno County Office of Education.

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