House Arrest in Clairemont (1977)

Juvenile Hall (1953) These juvenile delinquents would be in their 80s now… (Bill Swank collection)

Today, Clairemont is under house arrest.

On January 1, 1977, Section 840 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (home supervision/house arrest) became law:

“Home supervision is a program in which persons who would otherwise be detained in the juvenile hall are permitted to remain in their homes pending court disposition of their cases, under the supervision of a deputy probation officer, probation aide, or probation volunteer.”

On March 14,1977, I was a supervisor in the Juvenile Intake Division of the San Diego County Probation Department. At a typical detention hearing that day, one of my officers, Tom Hilberg, recommended detention for a juvenile.

Instead, Richard L. Vaughn, presiding judge of the San Diego County Juvenile Court, placed the boy on home supervision. He warned the youth that if he didn’t remain under house arrest until his next hearing, he would be returned to Juvenile Hall.

There was a problem. Our department didn’t have a home supervision program.

The kid lived in a Clairemont condo near Balboa and Genesee. I told Tom to transfer the case to our Investigation Division as soon as possible, so supervision could be somebody else’s problem.

In the meantime, Tom and I checked on the kid. Tom lived in Birdland and I lived near Clairemont High School. I remember going to FedMart one evening and stopping to make sure the kid was at home. Tom did the same thing after work. Together, we randomly visited the residence twice a day or more.

Before the case was assigned to a new investigation officer, I went to the kid’s home while his parents were at work. There was a problem.

The condo was filled with his friends and the pungent smell of marijuana. On the way to the Hall, the kid said, “I didn’t think you’d be coming. I’ve never seen a probation officer so much.”

The next day, Tom took the case back before Judge Vaughn. The parents complained that probation officers were harassing their son twice a day or more, on weekends and at night. The judge laughed and said, “Well, it’s good to know somebody is following my orders” and detained the kid in Juvenile Hall.

It is a little known fact that the first person in San Diego County to ever be placed on “house arrest” was from Clairemont back in 1977.

In 2020, a new form of house arrest has swept Clairemont.

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