Back said another problem could be that some judges and probation officers might hesitate to separate a youth from his family for six months on a first offense. "This is maybe too severe," he said.
Legislation creating Turning Point was introduced by Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Mission Hills), whose office was embarrassed to learn that the program was not receiving cadets.
"Oh my God, one student?" said a spokeswoman.
Cardenas said he wants the program to succeed and denied that flaws were designed into it by lawmakers who didn't like the program's tough-love elements. If anything, he said, the problems result from an abundance of caution. "We wanted a narrow scope," he said, so that those most in need could benefit.
But he said something must be done to loosen entrance restrictions. He said discussions are underway to revise the program next year. Hearings are scheduled April 24. And Cardenas emphasized that any money allocated and not spent will be returned to the state treasury.