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New juvenile justice center in San Bernardino aims to break cycle of recidivism

San Bernardino County Sun - 6/4/2021

Jun. 4—Families of 400 to 900 juveniles per year will soon get counseling and supportive services designed to break the cycle of recidivism in an 11,375-square-foot facility that celebrated its grand opening in San BernardinoThursday, June 3.

Many times, multiple generations of the same family will run into trouble with the law, and the facility aims to give young people and their families the tools to stop that, said Curt Hagman, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.

"The grandparents of these kids were seen by probation," Hagman said by phone. "So it's trying to get them straightened out and not lead to recidivism, not just for them but their immediate families. ... If we can help get people on the straight and narrow, it's less victims in our community and more productive residents."

Counseling is part of the comprehensive care that will be provided by the center when it opens to patients later this month, according to a news release.

The office, part of the Juvenile Justice Program run by San Bernardino County'sDepartment of Behavioral Health, is on Gilbert Street. The location — near the San Bernardino Children's Assessment Center, Juvenile Court, Probation Office, and several schools — will help staff members conduct community outreach and serve those who need it, the news release states.

It's also in one of 57 Qualified Opportunity Zone tracts in the country, a designation meaning the area has been rated as among the most economically distressed.

The conditions in the area mean it has among the lowest opportunities for children, explaining their need for this type of intervention — and making the area itself eligible for extra help.

Under legislation sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Corey Booker, D-New Jersey, businesses who invest in Qualified Opportunity Zones receive tax benefits — which in this case went to RevOZ Capital, which partnered with the county to build the facility.

That's an example of the success the zones can bring, said Scott, who attended and spoke at the event Thursday.

"Already millions of Americans have seen and benefited from the incredible potential of Opportunity Zones across the nation," Scott said in a news release. "I am amazed by the great work being done here at the San Bernardino Medical Center and look forward to hearing the success stories that come from their efforts."

The facility will serve families in and out of custody or who have a mental illness.

The project was highlighted as a national best practice in a May 2020 report by the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which included several case studies of Opportunity Zone investments across the country.

San Bernardino County selected California-based developer Sudweeks Development and Investment Co. in 2018 to finance and build a new government office building and pre-leased the building for 15 years, a release states. But no one was willing to invest in the highly distressed community, county officials said.

That changed with the involvement of RezOZ Capital, which specializes in Opportunity Zones. RezOz made a 10-year investment to support the construction of the San Bernardino Medical Center.



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