Minimum Standards in California

In 1995, the Legislature transferred responsibility for all local juvenile facilities to the Board of Corrections (BOC), which subsequently initiated a comprehensive review of the minimum standards for these facilities. This process, like the one the BOC uses for reviewing and updating minimum standards for local adult facilities, involved extensive collaboration among state and county subject matter experts. While the law allows existing facilities to meet physical plant standards in effect at the time of construction, counties must comply with current standards when constructing a new facility or renovating an existing one. Thus, counties applying for construction funds should be familiar with current standards relating to design and physical plant (Title 24) as well as operational policies, programs and procedures (Title 15).   A brief description of each follows.

Physical Plant Standards

Physical plant standards for local detention facilities, both adult and juvenile, are found in Part 1 and Part 2 of Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR).

Part 1 covers facility planning. Of particular interest to corrections planners are sections detailing requirements for a needs assessment and a program statement, which defines the goals and operations for the new facility. Also covered are the required submissions, reviews and approvals throughout the planning and design phase, as well as a section outlining design requirements related to such topic as the reduction of suicide hazards and the provision of spaces for individuals with disabilities. This section also references regulations concerning fire safety, health and sanitation, and heating and cooling.

Part 2 addresses design criteria for required spaces, furnishings and equipment. This includes minimum standards for reception and intake areas; temporary holding rooms; living areas; single and double occupancy rooms; dormitories; dayrooms; furnishings and equipment; and space/equipment for support functions.

Operational Standards

Minimum operational standards for local detention facilities are found in Title 15 of the CCR. These standards cover a number of issues related to operational policies and procedures, including training, personnel, and management; records and public information; classification and segregation; programs and services; discipline; medical/mental health services; food; and sanitation.

Building Codes

In building and renovating correctional facilities, counties must also follow Title 24, Part 2, CCR, Uniform Building Code (with California amendments) and Title 19 of the CCR.  The building code contains general construction regulations as well as fire and life safety regulations, which require fire resistive construction, adequate exits, light and ventilation, and a workable evacuation plan specific to detention facilities. Title 19 contains regulations addressing the maintenance of fire and life safety systems, fire resistant materials and furnishings, and safety equipment.

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