January 20, 2022
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury 1998 Final Report: Hillcrest Juvenile Detention Facility
Background | Findings | Recommendations

The Hillcrest Juvenile Detention Facility is located in the County complex on Tower Road in Belmont. It was constructed during an era when custodial care was largely devoted to run-aways and juveniles marginally associated with the criminal justice system.

Today, some of the most violent and antisocial behavior is exhibited by juveniles. At any given time, many of the inmates in the facility stand accused of felonies, including capital offenses. Because of their age, the law precludes their incarceration in adult facilities where the necessary security exists for the individual, the jail population, the warding personnel and the public. Instead, they are housed in the Hillcrest Juvenile Detention Facility which is inadequate to provide appropriate services to assigned juveniles.

Many serious offenses result in prolonged judicial processes. This may require the accused to spend considerable time in a facility that presently does not provide adequate room for attorney visits, continuing education, medical services, psychological services, and physical fitness. Security and surveillance in the present facility are also noticeably lacking.


Members of the San Mateo County 1998 Grand Jury toured the Hillcrest Juvenile Detention Facility under the guidance of the Juvenile Justice Administrator. It was found to be a basically sound structure, however, it is not a secure facility for serious offenders. The present building limits the supervisory staff’s ability to segregate antagonistic individuals and groups from each other as well as the ability to provide sufficient rooms for education, vocational guidance, and medical attention.

The Juvenile Justice Authorities have proposed to the San Mateo County Supervisors that a new Juvenile Detention Facility be constructed. The plan is to construct the new facility in a parking lot adjacent to the present facility without affecting the existing building. When complete, a simple transition will be made to the new structure, and the old one used for some other County purpose.

Recommendation 48: The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors should give priority to the construction of a new Juvenile Detention Facility adjacent to the existing facility.
Recommendation 49: The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury should monitor the progress to provide an adequate juvenile detention facility for detention and supervision of incarcerated juveniles.


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