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Funds for Juvenile Camps

June 05, 1993

In response to Scott Harris, "A Case for Saving L.A. County's Juvenile Camps," May 20:

No one argues against the need for Los Angeles County's juvenile probation camps. But at what price?

If county Chief Administrative Officer Harry Hufford has his way with the Board of Supervisors, and funds are diverted from the county's Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program Office (DAAPO) to keep two camps serving 426 adolescents open, the Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse (L.A. CADA) will have to lay off 15 of its 60 staff members. That's direct service staff providing residential and outpatient treatment and counseling to 3,500 clients annually. And its youth services staff providing primary prevention and early intervention to 1,000 adolescents annually.

Multiply L.A. CADA times dozens of other recipients of DAAPO funds, and you've created a monster that will devour thousands of lives and shatter our communities. Gone will be the steady progress being made in rehabilitating damaged adolescents and adults, restoring health and recovering productivity.

Alcohol and drug abuse programs may cost millions, but they save billions in lost wages alone, as numerous studies have shown. And while statewide 17 camps are threatened by Gov. Pete Wilson's budget ax, only two in L.A. County are in jeopardy.

So let's ask the Board of Supervisors to send Hufford back to his drawing board. Let's ask Hufford how many of his staff he wishes to lay off. Better yet, let's ask him to "just say no" to the DAAPO diversion. Yes, the county must figure out how to handle a huge budget shortfall. But let's not rob the hope from so many to benefit so few. And let's not rob the entire county of its quality of life, and the chance for enhanced productivity and new tax dollars from those who return from the despair of substance abuse. So dig, Mr. Hufford. That's why you have a six-figure salary. Find the dollars for two juvenile probation camps. But don't wreak havoc in the process.

JOHN L. BROWN

Executive Director

L.A. CADA

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