LEAGUES OF WOMEN VOTERS OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY
The League does not judge the merits of arguments of the measure's
proponents or opponents or question their validity. Arguments come from
many sources and are not limited to those found in the County voter information
PROS AND CONS
OF MEASURE A
Santa Clara County is the fourth largest county in California, with over
1.7 million residents and a wide diversity of cultures. The court system
administrative structure includes the Presiding Judge of Superior Court
and Supervising Judge of Juvenile Court. The Santa Clara County Charter
provides that the Judge of the Juvenile Court shall appoint the Chief
Probation Officer. The probation department is an arm of the court. Probation
is a judicially imposed sentence that attempts to treat and rehabilitate
offenders. As of July 2000, the probation department had 877 budgeted
positions for both the juvenile and adult court systems, including 85
probation management and supervisors. Juvenile probation staff included
50 juvenile community services POs, 69 juvenile probation services POs,
and 23 community worker POs.
As of July 1999, 4,543 juveniles were being served by the probation
department. Nine per cent were in maximum supervision, 19% in regular
supervision, 27% in minimum supervision, and 40% were diversion cases.
Among those held in local detention at Juvenile Hall are youths awaiting
trial in adult court.
An investigation of alleged abuses at Juvenile Hall led to a management
study and increased training of Juvenile Hall employees is scheduled
to begin this March. After many years of service, the Chief Probation
Officer has retired and a respected interim chief is serving until a
new permanent Chief Probation Officer can be appointed. The Juvenile
Hall Advisory Board proposed in Measure A is not at issue.
Shall Section 504 of the Charter of the County of Santa Clara County
be amended to transfer to the County Executive the power to appoint, supervise,
direct, suspend or remove the Chief Adult and Juvenile Probation Officer,
and shall the Board of Supervisors then establish a Juvenile Hall Advisory
Board composed of thirteen or more persons from organizations and groups
as specified in the Measure?
A YES vote means the right to appoint, supervise, or remove the Chief
Adult and Juvenile Probation Officer will be transferred to the County
A NO vote means the right to appoint, supervise, or remove the Chief
Adult and Juvenile Probation Officer will remain with the Superior Court.
- The Board of Supervisors should have the responsibility and authority
for the Probation Department since it has responsibility for both
the budget and liability issues.
- The County Executive should have the authority to appoint, supervise,
or remove the Chief Probation Officer so that the Board of Supervisors
can implement changes at Juvenile Hall.
- Measure A is needed to make Juvenile Hall a safe environment for
both the youth held there and Juvenile Hall employees.
- Judges meet in private and decide without formal public input and
are not as accountable to the public as the County Executive and the
Board of Supervisors are. The Board of Supervisors conducts its business
in public and its records are available to the public.
- The County Executive and Board of Supervisors lack authority over
the leadership and policies of the Probation Department.
- Measure A will not solve problems at Juvenile Hall. A collaborative
effort by Court, County and community will, as is recommended by the
State Probation Services Task Force.
- Measure A threatens the independence of the Court and its ability
for the probation department to do independent pre-sentence investigations.
- The Court has proposed a power sharing agreement between the Superior
Court and the Board of Supervisors to collaboratively appoint the
Chief Probation Officer, as is the practice in numerous counties throughout
- The Board did not follow Charter Amendment procedures. There was
no Charter Review Committee, no process in the Public Safety and Justice
Committee with recommendations to the Board, no opportunity for input
from key stakeholders --- Court, District Attorney, Public Defender,
Sheriff, local law enforcement, commnunity service providers, and
the Juvenile Justice Commission.
- Measure A is a power grab by the County Executive and Board of
Supervisors. Santa Clara County Probation Department has a national
reputation as an excellent department that utilizes model practices
and has established successful innovative programs that serve the