A $48 Million Bet on the 'L.A. Model' of Juvenile Justice

With Campus Kilpatrick, Los Angeles County has made a serious investment in progressive design to support progressive programming.

2 minute read

January 29, 2018, 1:00 PM PST

By Katharine Jose

At Metropolis Magazine, Thomas Musca and Emily Gardner profile a facility in Malibu they describe as “Los Angeles County’s $48 million wager on the future of youth incarceration.”

It’s Campus Kilpatrick, built on the site of the former Camp Vernon Kilpatrick, which was designed in the 1960s for the type of juvenile detention that the county would like to leave in the past.

The primary goal—and apparently, one accomplishment—of the new design is that someone incarcerated in it feels less incarcerated than they might in the average jail. It’s laid out like a small college campus, has a “cottage-style housing model,” and allows residents to wear their own clothes.

“In order to minimize the harsh visual impact of perimeter hurricane fencing, much of the campus is cordoned off by buildings. This is achieved by conjoining most of the eastern structures on site. The complex’s reception desk, waiting room, and ‘command post’ are consolidated in between administrative offices, staff housing, and the common room. While the command post has the entire campus in view, it is the anti-panopticon, ‘accountable’ to visitors by being completely visible from inside the waiting area.”

The architecture of correctional facilities is a relatively frequent topic in discussions of the ethic of design. Two years ago the AIA recently considered—then rejected—a petition that would have mandated censure for any member whose designs included areas devoted to solitary confinement or “death chambers.”  A Dutch study on prison design found marked differences in the relationship between prisoners and staff, which deeply affected the experience of prisoners.

The idea behind Campus Kilpatrick, is that “state-of-the-art design supports the state-of-the-art programming.”

“This ethos informs a new ‘L.A. Model’ of youth detention that rejects a punitive, boot-camp incarceration style in favor of therapeutic support for its often traumatized occupants.”

A similar architectural approach to juvenile justice was recently finished in Marseille.

Monday, January 22, 2018 in Metropolis Magazine

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Street scene in Greenwich Village, New York City with people walking through busy intersection and new WTC tower in background.

Planning for Accessibility: Proximity is More Important than Mobility

Accessibility-based planning minimizes the distance that people must travel to reach desired services and activities. Measured this way, increased density can provide more total benefits than increased speeds.

April 14, 2024 - Todd Litman

Wood-frame two-story rowhouses under construction.

Fair Housing Cannot Take a Back Seat to ‘Build, Baby, Build’

If we overlook fair housing principles in the plan to build US housing back better, we risk ending up right back where we started.

April 11, 2024 - James Jennings

"No 710" lawn sign on green lawn.

LA Metro Board Approves New 710 Freeway Plan

The newest plan for the 710 corridor claims it will not displace any residents.

2 hours ago - Streetsblog LA

Close-up of row of electric cars plugged into chargers at outdoor station.

Austin’s Proposed EV Charging Rules Regulate Station Locations, Size

City planners say the new rules would ensure an efficient distribution of charging infrastructure across the city and prevent an overconcentration in residential areas.

3 hours ago - Austin Monitor

Green hills with orange California poppies in bloom in foreground in Chino Hills State Park, California.

Making California State Parks More Climate-Resilient

A recently released report offers recommendations for keeping state parks healthy and robust, including acquiring additional land for conservation and recreation.

4 hours ago - Spectrum News 1

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.