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

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